South Korea Rattled by Suicide of Bullied Teen

South Korea is stepping up its campaign against school bullying in the wake of a young victim’s suicide last week

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PEDRO UGARTE / AFP / Getty Images

A message in Korean reading "Forget Everything" placed by the South Korean government to dissuade suicides at Mapo Bridge over Seoul's Han River on Jan. 11, 2013

South Korea is stepping up its campaign against school bullying in the wake of a young victim’s suicide last week. A 15-year-old high schooler, only identified by his surname Choi, jumped out of his apartment home in the southeastern city of Gyeongsan last Monday after being bullied for roughly two years. His death — the second youth suicide in South Korea this month — has shocked the nation and called into question the government’s efforts to stop school violence.

(MORE: Seoul Launches Suicide Watchdog)

In his suicide note, Choi named five students who he says had bullied him physically and verbally since 2011. He also criticized the government-mandated, closed-circuit television cameras in schools. According to the Wall Street Journal, he wrote, “You’ll never be able to spot school violence the way it is now. There are blind spots in classrooms and restrooms where no closed-circuit cameras are installed. That is where most school violence happens.”

In a meeting held after the news of Choi’s suicide, President Park Geun-hye declared school violence as a “social ill” — along with sexual violence, domestic violence and low-quality food — and called for solutions to “eradicate” these problems. On Thursday, the administration announced that it would install high-resolution, closed-circuit cameras at schools across the country and crack down on school gangs. Courses on preventing school bullying and building more security offices in schools are also in the works.

(MORE: Fallout of Ex-South Korea President’s Suicide)

Government statistics show that suicide is the leading cause of death among 10- to 19-year-olds in South Korea, where young students often face intense pressure to conform and excel in hypercompetitive academic environments. Most young South Koreans who commit suicide are believed to do so because of bullying and family problems.

South Korea’s Education Ministry will start its first nationwide fact-finding survey on school violence for the 2013 academic year on March 25. The results of the survey, which critics have called unhelpful because of students’ tendencies to underreport cases, will help determine future antibullying-policy direction.

MORE: South Koreans Are Shaken by a Celebrity Suicide

35 comments
Brian6042
Brian6042

I am a victim of bullying in Korea. Ps the bullying issue is not only a problem in a Korean public school. International schools are just as bad or even worse. The most frequent way of bullying is swearing, gossiping, violence and cyber bullying. However somehow all the teachers think that the bullies that bully me r good kids cuz they act like nice people in front of the teachers but in the back they r devils. So even though I report the bullies the school doesn't do anything. Ps if  I report them I get in trouble  for false accusation. They mostly use skype group call to gossip with other kids from other international schools. By now u will be wondering y Im a victim of bullying. It is because Korean school kids think that if a person dont use swear words they think that person's an idiot. 

ps.hydro
ps.hydro

As an asian from Chinese culture, I have to say parents are the main source of this result. 10 years before, parents would let teachers to punish those kids who made bad mistakes, including bullying. Nowadays, some parents will sue teachers who try to do their jobs, and their kids learn to disrespect to the teachers and start bullying. Those teacher will face a high pressure when those monster-like parents show up. What we can do is, respect the teachers and punish the misbehavior kids of ours own. That's it. May this kids who commited suicide rest in peace.

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

We are all bullies and will be bullied. We need to equip all people with tools to recognize it within themselves and in the environment and respond in an appropriate manner.

gamja
gamja

as someone who is Korean I've known tons of kids from school that were bullied. Usually the bully's parents don't even care because they don't want their kid to have a "bad reputation" so they won't do anything about it. They basically say "its your kids fault" Its pretty sad that they think this way but most Korean moms care more about reputation over wants/needs (just like my mom -__-')

sijjistoryus
sijjistoryus

I was picked on in school. However, it was nothing like what happened to this particular student that I graduated with. His name was Adam. He was the typical "coke-bottle" glasses kid. He did seem a bit socially different, but never caused any trouble. I've never seen anyone picked on so badly. It was unreal. I remember this one day...    during lunch....   John Washburn was his name...    He was one of those kids that just physically developed before anyone else. For a middle-schooler, his forearms were huge, his neck was wide, and his attitude was ruthless. He seemed to like trouble. Everyone was scared of him. I was, too. I used to kiss his ass when he would walk by so I didn't get on his #$%# list.

Adam was standing in the lunch line. John was antagonizing Adam somehow (I was too far to hear). Adam actually stood up to him. This invited John to completely pounce on Adam. It was like something I've never seen. I just remember Adam, so skinny and frail, going down instantly, while John's forearm was moving back and forth at the speed of light against Adam's face. It was horrid and I still remember it like it was yesterday (over 20 years later). It was like a trained UFC fighter going against some small kid.


I wish I could go back and confront him myself . Since I now only fear GOD, I'd have no problem facing this John. If I got beat down... so what. Poor Adam stood up to him. I wish I could tell Adam how I still think of his bravery. He probably has no idea that someone is still thinking about that moment.

younitedstates
younitedstates

I think children in general have the undeserved reputation of  being innocent. They are cruel and ruthless. The saying, "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down," comes to mind.   A lot of bullying  I think is an innate and an unfortunate bi-product of evolution. I think compassion is the only answer although I don't think anyone can force anyone else to feel compassion for others. 

thewholetruth
thewholetruth

We have got to wake up, Parents are asleep 

1. Young people are being Cyber bullied, on cellphones and the internet

2. Texting is a secret world of teen abuse, get in their phones and stop asking permission, be a parent(They will thank you later)

3. A Girl was bullied mercilessly by other girls using cellphone pictures. It led to Self harm, teens are cutting themselves and parents are still clueless. See here   http://cuttingyourself.tumblr.com/post/45694400320/cyber-bullying-and-cutting-myself-what-parents-do

Seola1
Seola1

This is an epidemic because we make it out to be.  We glorify those who are bullied, especially after they've killed themselves.  They get accolades, love, etc. that they think they aren't getting in their normal lives.  You might even get a song from Lady Gaga, enshrining you in history forever.  Pretty nice alternative for someone who thinks they aren't getting attention in daily life.  We idolize and sympathize, leave messages of "If I'd known you, I'd have loved you" and so on.  Meanwhile, we as a society have long ago stopped teaching our kids social skills, and how to handle bullies in favor of just saying "Nope, never bully ever and if you are, tell someone else to handle it for you".  Bullies exist through ALL phases of life.  Toddlers take toys, kids in school make fun of anything and everything, adults bully all their lives trying to get ahead in the rat race.  Do this, do that.  Yet, instead of saying "This is how you cope with it." we say "Poor poor baby, suicide is the answer to getting love and you'll never have to deal with those bullies ever."  Teach kids EARLY how to cope with bullies, how to cope with negative statements and how you expect them to treat others.  We're too busy parking our kids in front of video games and snacks, to bother with teaching them extremely basic social skills.  THAT is who is to blame.  Bullies have existed since the DAWN OF TIME people.  There is no new "rash of bullying".  Zero tolerance has caught up far more innocent kids (see the kid who ate his Poptart into a mountain to which the school determined was a gun and OFFERED GRIEF COUNSELING to kids for a poptart gun or the little girl who was suspended and it will be on her permanent record she brought a gun to school... for a Hello Kitty BUBBLE gun!) than it has ever done to discourage bullies.

krazytraiin666
krazytraiin666

"His death — the second youth suicide in South Korea this month — has shocked the nation"

Meanwhile In America, we have 372 teen suicides per month, average

norton_6
norton_6

Another Child gone that didn't see a future because of Bullying. The world remembers Amanda Todd. If we could teach classes on bullying, get parental involvement, have the schools notifiy the parents of the bullies, and enforce a mandatory course for parents and the bullys and show "all of the children that have committed suicide as a result of bulling".  Anything, we have to start somewhere..

CarolBiden
CarolBiden

This story brings me so much sadness not only because I'm Korean, but because I was bullied by both my American school and Korean school peers for being an overweight kid. Bullying tears at the foundation of one's core in a way that takes a lifetime to heal and requires more than the love of parents or family and friends. Effective measures of prevention, education, support and accountability are such a big challenge in this day and age...when will it stop? My condolences to the victim's family and friends. May we never forget his story.

LisaKoopman
LisaKoopman

This is a world wide problem. The penalty has to be one so great, as to make the criminal think before doing the crime.  Bullying is a crime committed by a criminal. Until it is seen as such, acted on as such, it will never be solved. 

Scared_Silent
Scared_Silent

I am an American ex-pat, married to a Korean, and living in Korea.  The bullying problem is endemic.  I was an administrator at an American school, accredited by a major American accrediting agency.  Everyone here brushed off bullying that required several students to be hospitalized.  Teachers and administrators quit over the cover ups and corruption.  What is worse is that when we wrote letters, submitted students' statements and forwarded documentation to the American accreditation agency, the agency ignored us.  Apparently they like their fees and foreign junkets.  We are still trying. 

The first step in problem solving is to recognize that there is a problem.  It won't happen here except in the abstract.  There is too much chae-myun (face-saving, cronyism, and corruption), and American accrediting agencies are putting lipstick on these pigs.  

If anyone reading this has any pull, contact me.