Sat Jul 13 2019
The delegation from South Korea with University of Minnesota officials, photographed in front of Burton Hall on campus.

On June 17–21, a South Korean delegation visited ICI to learn about person-centered practices (PCP), positive behavior support (PBS), and self-directed services. These concepts, which emphasize personal autonomy and independence, are still new in South Korea. The delegation, which was composed of members from 15 organizations that serve people with disabilities, wanted to learn more about these concepts so they could implement them at home. South Korean disability policy has changed, so now at least 3% of a company’s workforce must be people with disabilities. The policy is an opportunity to expand choices for South Koreans with disabilities by using approaches such as PCP, PBS, and self-directed supports.

In 2017, an earlier delegation came from South Korea to the United States to learn about self-direction in disability policy and one of their site visits was ICI, where they met Rachel Freeman and learned about PCP. Freeman was invited to South Korea later that year, and when the Koreans wanted to learn more, they selected ICI. “Although they mainly came to visit me, they provide many different services so they are really interested in ICI’s work as a whole,” says Freeman. “We are honored our colleagues came such a long way to visit ICI and appreciate the opportunity to learn from each other and collaborate.”

During their visit, this year's delegates also met Kyung Mee Kim, a visiting professor from Soongsil University in Seoul who was part of that earlier delegation in 2017. She is completing her year-long Fulbright Scholarship at ICI in PCP and consumer-directed supports. “ICI and its people are treasures to me and I felt I was digging treasure every day I was here,” says Kim (pictured in the front row at the extreme right). “My main research was to identify best practices in individualized budgeting programs in Minnesota. Individualized budgeting is a form of self-direction and I want to bring it home and see it implemented in South Korea.”