N. Korea's first Paralympian inspires the disabled

By Jean H. Lee

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 28 2012 11:57 p.m. MDT

But Kim Kyung Hwa, manager of the Green Tree foundation's planning team, says the country can barely feed its people, much less provide special care for the disabled. Green Tree sends food and supplies to North Korea's disabled, as well as sports equipment to Li and her group of disabled athletes.

When AP journalists visited the Taeddonggang Cultural Center for the Disabled in June, a girl in a wheelchair was thwacking a pingpong ball fired at her by a coach.

The young woman, Ma Yu Chol, isn't competing at the Paralympics but she is in London to cheer Rim on. Li said she sees her country's trip to the Paralympics as a "first step" toward developing a disabled sports culture in North Korea.

"People can communicate through sports," she said, "and learn to feel comfortable around one another through sports."

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