Word: this article incorporates discussions of bullying and violence, and references to suicide.
Faculty violence and bullying is a critical challenge in South Korea. In 2015, it was estimated that three out of 10 college students experience bullying in class. It is hardly shocking then, that prime faculty dramas typically depict scenes of bullying and/or violence. The just lately concluded A Lovely World is a uncommon drama that not only depicted such scenes but made the difficulty its central plot.
A video of Park Seon-ho being crushed by his “friends” emerges a number of days after he’s discovered to have fallen off his faculty’s roof. Regardless of the video and Seon-ho’s essential situation, the Faculty Violence Committee lets his assailants go together with a easy punishment. As the varsity administration and regulation enforcement fail them, Seon-ho’s loving family take it upon themselves to research into what happened on the night time he fell.
In A Lovely World, Seon-ho not solely survives the fall, however he has no lasting injuries. Unfortunately, such completely happy endings are the stuff of dramas. Real life just isn’t as forgiving. Drama writers thus find a lot inspiration to attract upon from actual life. Perhaps that is why dramas that delve into this heavy subject share many plot points.
In Solomon’s Perjury (2016), the Korean remake of the Japanese film of the identical identify, scholar Lee So-woo is found lifeless on the varsity grounds one winter morning. Once again, in their rush to shut the ugly incident, faculty administration and regulation enforcement fail to uncover what happened. A few students take it into their very own palms to arrange a “trial” and expose the reality.
In both dramas mentioned above, a scholar from a center class or poor family, previously recognized to have been bullied by youngsters of the wealthy and influential, has fallen off the varsity roof. It’s unknown whether or not he fell by chance, whether or not he jumped deliberately, or whether it was one thing rather more sinister — a murder. The elite faculty the place the scholar studied needs to resolve the matter quietly and his bullies are given no more than a warning or minor punishment, if at all. The police shrug off the case. Thus, household and associates take matters into their very own palms, and a drama is born.
Even dramas that do not necessarily concentrate on the difficulty function these parts. In Save Me (2017), another heavy drama that takes on the subject of a spiritual cult, the cult in query uses a household tragedy – the dying by suicide of the son as he was being bullied – to entice the household into its fold. Right here, the present doesn’t increase the question of what occurred to the boy. As an alternative, we’re shown in brutal detail how he was assaulted, and why he jumped from the varsity roof.
These commonalities mirror real life tragedies. It is hanging that in A Lovely World, the bullies when questioned, repeatedly say they might by no means have imagined that the issues they did “for fun” would drive Seon-ho to such an extreme step. This mirrors the reported phrases of the real-life bullies of Kwon Seung-min, whose demise by suicide in 2011 introduced the difficulty into national public consciousness. A quick google search will even reveal situations of adolescent dying by suicide, prompted by bullying. Typically in such real-life situations, the scholar in question has jumped off their condominium constructing, echoing Kwon’s personal demise. This raises the query as to what measures South Korean authorities have taken to curb such situations. As drama viewers, what hints can we glean concerning the effectiveness of those measures?
The regulation takes two separate however concurrent approaches to high school violence and bullying. First, there’s legal regulation, with its applicable measures to deal with juvenile delinquency. There’s plenty of debate in regards to the strategy juvenile justice should take towards those accused of crimes. Many argue the current regulation is just too straightforward on delinquents. This is briefly referenced in A Lovely World, when the influential father of the scholar main Seon-ho’s bullies assures him that even when he is caught, the regulation will let him off as he is still underage.
Second, there’s the Act On The Prevention Of And Countermeasures Towards Violence In Faculties, enacted in 2004, which specifically offers with how faculties are to deal with the difficulty. The definitions of “school violence” and “bullying” are broad, and canopy “cyber-bullying”. As a safety measure, the State is allowed to combine and control CCTVs installed in faculties, and faculties are to make provision for the providers of a counselor. Dramas show how easily CCTVs are side-stepped as bullying occurs in locations resembling loos where cameras are absent. For higher or worse, they aren’t present on dramaland faculty roofs either (or have been tampered with). Counselors only present as much as do too little too late.
Most significantly, the Act requires all faculties to set up an “Autonomous Committee” to deliberate on issues associated to high school violence. That is the Faculty Violence Committee, composed largely of representatives of oldsters, that options considerably in dramas. Amongst different things, it is empowered to take measures essential for the safety of the sufferer including making provisions for psychological counselling or recommendation. It might also determine on a punishment for the “aggressor student” — which ranges from a written apology to service to the varsity (as finished in A Lovely World) to receiving psychological counselling to suspension or switch to a different faculty or expulsion.
Regardless of the above provisions, the Act offers solely obscure steerage as to how the Committee is to examine and weigh evidence. It thus leaves much room for discretion on the Committee’s half.
Pertinently, there isn’t any safeguard towards the Committee’s own bias, a loophole dramas by no means fail to capitalize upon. Dramaland faculties have an incentive to downplay the incident. Mother and father of the accused, and even adults more immediately involved within the violence, are often highly effective forces within the Committee. Thus the following train is little greater than a farce. That is seen most clearly in Solomon’s Perjury, when college students discussing a previous case observe that the victim was made out to be the assailant and expelled. So-woo doesn’t consider in the Committee both, and refuses to attend the hearing. Equally, in A Lovely World, Oh Joon-suk, the instigator of the violence, is let off after he efficiently fakes his feelings.
Moreover, college students have a mere 15 days to attraction towards the choice of the Committee — perhaps this brief period is why dramaland college students by no means file an attraction.
With the failure of regulation enforcement and faculty administration to effectively deal with the difficulty, dramas turn to household and pals to hold ahead the torch of justice. In doing so, dramas are telling us that finally, it’s the individuals around us that play the most important position within the prevention of, or restoration from the scars of, such incidents.
Most strikingly, youngsters are proven to imitate the conduct of the adults round them. In Solomon’s Perjury, we see that So-woo’s dying was enabled by the failing system, and by adults who ought to have protected him when he needed their protection probably the most. The strong-willed and brave Go Search engine optimization-yeon, driven by a robust sense of justice, pushes ahead with the trial despite all opposition from the varsity. It’s shown that she is in a position to take action as a result of she has the help of her equally truthful and principled mother and father.
However, Han Ji-hoon joins her whereas hiding a dark secret, very similar to his father. The similarities to at least one’s mother and father are even more pronounced in A Lovely World, the place 5 totally different sets of oldsters — those of 4 bullies, and Seon-ho and his sister — react to the tragedy in several methods, all of that are intently replicated by their youngsters.
Whether or not due to the need to fill in the hours, or to construct complicated characters, dramas present us that bullies too come from troubled (albeit rich) houses. In Solomon’s Perjury and A Lovely World, the two essential bullies are both troubled enough to, sooner or later within the drama, contemplate suicide themselves. In a heartfelt scene in A Lovely World, as Joon-suk stands on the sting of a roof gathering his resolve, Seon-ho’s father finds him and assures him that each one shall be okay. With this narrative in thoughts, the dramas are telling us that bullies too could be saved — with the proper steerage from the adults surrounding them.
Most poignantly, dramas are also assuring victims that each one just isn’t over. This isn’t only implied in the seemingly unbelievable joyful endings, where the whole lot is okay at the end, it is typically specific. When Seon-ho encourages another scholar, he tells her that (in Korean) “suicide” spelled backwards is “live”. Subsequently,
Don’t lose. You should not lose.
Notably, we aren’t proven the opposite scholar as he speaks, and Seon-ho appears immediately into the digital camera, chatting with the viewers.
Watching these dramas, it is fascinating to break down themes which will affect our own perspectives on social issues. There are two faculties of thought relating to juvenile justice. If one sees the bully in isolation, as a gangster-in-the-making, one is more more likely to advocate harsh punishment and deterrence, whereas if one sees the bully as a product of his/her setting — family and faculty — then one will advocate for reform and rehabilitation.
The sympathetic portrayal of scholar bullies in current drama exhibits that South Korean drama writers don’t view them in isolation. I personally help reform and rehabilitation as nicely, but that is easier stated than completed. Horrific real-life incidents on the information remind us that regardless of every little thing dramas do to construct a posh and dynamic character for the bully, actual life is probably much more complicated and dynamic, and the true brutality of what victims might endure just isn’t easily captured in a drama.
When you or anybody you realize is experiencing distress, an inventory of helpline numbers from around the globe might be found here: www.iasp.information/assets/Crisis_Centres/
(CNN, Int’l Journal of Justice and Regulation, Korea Expose, Medium, PMC, ResearchGate. Photographs by way of JTBC, OCN. Translated Act by way of Korea Laws Research Institute)