Monday, May 30, 2011

First Post: Keeping track of English articles related to hazing in Korea

Here is the blog post

Extremely well written and disturbing.

Kim Min-kyoung and Park Bo-mi 


“When I was in middle school, I went to a Gyeongbok High School festival, and I thought the weightlifting club’s bodybuilding was cool. So I thought I should really join if I go to the school.”

Gyeongbok High School freshman Pak Min-cheol (17, assumed name) and six others joined the school weightlifting club in September of last year. But Pak’s dream of showing off his physique during school festivals turned into a nightmare.

Not long after joining, about ten upperclassmen in the second year began calling the freshmen off campus. They handed out disciplinary punishments to the freshmen, saying they did not greet them properly and that their classroom attitude was not good. They frequently beat them during break time and lunchtime. The punishment, which began as slaps to the head, moved on to forcing them to walk to Gyeongbokgung Station with graffiti written on their face, beating them on the thighs with a hockey stick, and beating their backsides with a wooden sword. They even meted out sadistic violence, like taking photos of them after forcing them to strip and pouring boiling water on their chest. They also forced them work part-time as servers in a wedding hall to buy the club windbreakers.

Unable to put up with the violence, the freshmen in November went straight to the police rather than telling their parents and school. Seoul’s Jongno Police Station booked without detainment ten second-year students on the bodybuilding team, and after investigating them, handed the case to prosecutors on Jan 7.

After the investigation began, the violence disappeared, but freshman Kim Jae-yeong (17, assumed name) said even now, when someone taps on his back, he is frightened, and when somebody calls his name, he runs away in fear.

In particular, one of the victims, Min Dong-su (17, assumed name), suffered a punctured lung that filled up with blood, and was hospitalized on Jan 7. Min had complained of difficulty breathing and pain in his chest since being beaten several times in November. He said he wanted to leave the club, but the seniors said in order to leave the club, he first needed to be beaten as many times as his class number, which is 88, so he could not. Min said he hoped the upper classmen would be transferred to another school or punished so that there would be no more beating in school.

It was also revealed that the school failed to discover what was going on despite the violence continuing for over two months. The bodybuilding club had been suspended due to upperclassmen’s tormenting of freshmen in 2009, too, but students kept the class going without a guidance teacher. The second-year students who were the assailants this time were the freshman victims in 2009.

An official from Gyeongbok High School said, “The school conducted several investigations during the second semester, but they could not find out anything specific because the victims kept silent.” He said, “The school is currently discussing whether to wait until the prosecutors’ investigation concludes or to convene its own committee to deal with school violence.”

But the school forced the freshman victims to write statements, saying, “You could be punished for joining a club whose activities had been suspended.”


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