At first, South Korea’s Vo Ra Mi Seo thought it was only every four years that she couldshowcase what people with a disability are capable of.
But after signing with a modelling agency last December, the Para cross-country skier is excited to display the beauty of disability more often.
“Although I got involved in many gigs like photoshoots and television shows after my Paralympic debut in 2010, I always felt like I was starting over, that I was re-introducing disability to people every four years,” Seo said.
While the Paralympics are a great platform, especially her home Games in 2018, Seo emphasised the importance of people with disabilities to use other platforms to keep the Paralympic Movement alive.
“As I was also an ambassador for PyeongChang 2018 and one of the torch bearers at the Opening Ceremony, more people recognised me. I received a lot of support at that time,” she continued. “It reminded me of why we need to expose the public more to people with disabilities even after the Paralympics.”
She shared the same sentiment with retired Para ice hockey player Min-Su Han who captained the South Korean team to bronze at PyeongChang 2018, the country’s first Paralympic medal in the sport.
Han eventually founded Para Star Entertainment, the country’s only agency for artists with a disability in December 2020. That was how the two Paralympians embarked on their new journey as part of the post-Games legacies.
“Moreover, it will open doors for everyone who is willing to work with people with a disability to easily get access.”
The-34-year-old also hopes her modelling career would boost Para cross-country in her home country ahead of Beijing 2022.
“Many wheelchair users still feel uncomfortable to go out in the snow in spite of our successful Paralympic campaign,” she said. “Therefore, these days I’m trying to post more photos and videos of my training sessions in my social media to encourage them. I already received several messages.”
Para cyclist and cross-country skier Doyeon Lee also joined Seo for a photoshoot. But with Lee now focused on training for Tokyo 2020, Seo is still working to encourage more women with a disability to model – all while trying to qualify for her last Paralympics at Beijing 2022.
“Race-wise, I had no regrets in PyeongChang, as I did the best possible in the long distance, spring and relay in front of home crowds and family in PyeongChang,” said Seo, who injured her spinal cord after falling down stairs in 2004.
“I forged this path (in Para sports and modeling), so I want to take a responsibility until I can hand over my position on to the next generation.”