Old presidential shoes help disabled people to resurrect forgotten brand

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-01-19 17:20 Updated : 2018-01-19 17:23
글씨작게 글씨크게

President Moon Jae-in was wearing a pair of worn out AGIO shoes when he knelt in prayer at a cemetery for the victims of a bloody 1980 civic uprising in the southern city of Gwangju last year. [Yonhap Photo]


SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Aju News) -- AGIO, a forgotten hand-made shoe brand created by a social enterprise for hearing-impaired people, came back to life Friday more than four years after it went bust, helped by a picture showing a pair of worn-out shoes South Korean President Moon Jae-in was wearing.

Yu Suk-yeong, 56, opened his factory called "Scene of Making Shoes", in Seoul's southern satellite city of Seongnam after hiring six hearing-impaired people with financial and other support from the city government. The first client who placed an order was Seongnam City Mayor Lee Jae-myung, a liberal politician who has supported Moon.

In early 2010, Yu opened a small shoe factory in the northern border city of Paju in March 2010 and hired six hearing-impaired employees trained by a cobbler with 40 years of experience to produce handmade shoes well crafted with high-quality leather. However, it was hard to sell shoes made by people with disabilities, and his company shut down three years later.
 

[Courtesy of AGIO]


Last year, Yu shed tears after receiving an unexpected call from a presidential aide asking if Moon could buy another pair of AGIO shoes. He did not know Moon was still wearing his shoes purchased six years ago. 

On May 18 last year, a picture showed Moon wearing his worn-out shoes when he knelt in prayer at a cemetery for the victims of a bloody 1980 civic uprising in the southern city of Gwangju. The picture became famous online and helped Yu gain his feet.

Pro-Moon supporters gave a helping hand to resurrect AGIO. "We welcome you to experience a precious moment with AGIO," Yu wrote on the company's facebook this week.