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Bullying in South Korea

January 27, 2012

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To begin with, sorry for the constant disclaimers in these videos. We know the crowd of commenters here on our site are a lot more civil than different crowds on different sites, so these disclaimers aren’t really relevant to you lovely people :D It seems like you here understand that we’re just talking about our experiences, and not as Korea scholars. So, yay to you guise! We really like the discussions that happen on this page and really want to thank you for your contributions :D

Anyhow, on with the show: we’re getting a lot of serious topics this month for our TL;DRs and today is no exception. Today’s question is from eaguyao001 from San Diego, California who asks,

“have you seen bullying as bad as they make it out to be in Korea? And if so, what do teachers normally do about it?”

Now we weren’t too clear on who this “they make it out to be” actually refers too, so we just assumed it meant Korean media, such as dramas, movies, and comics, aka “manhwa” 만화 in Korean or “manga” in Japanese. It’s true that any avid watcher/reader of Korean or Japanese drama and comics – such as myself, Martina – will know that high school life is a very, very common theme, and within this theme of school often comes the topic of bullying. Now we all know bullying exists in all parts of the world and at all age levels, so is bullying different in Korea, and if so, how?

Well the idea of bullying being “bad” in Korea, suggests that maybe it’s not as bad somewhere else, and frankly, we don’t think it’s possible to say one countries bullying is worst than the other, because bullying is equally terribly everywhere. So I don’t think that was the intention of the question (was it?). We’re thinking that the question was asking whether bullying is as prevalent in South Korean schools as it is in its depictions, which we really can’t answer. We taught at one school each, and our schools were in no way the norm. So the most we can talk about here is what we noticed in bullying in South Korea.

Our main point of interest deals with the school environment itself. We feel like Japan and Korea are similar in this way since both countries have ridiculously long school hours (7am – 11pm or later, Monday – Saturday) and in turn, the classroom becomes a second home. Students pretty much live at school; they brush their teeth after each meal, change into slipper shoes, personalize their desk with colourful seat cushions, pencil holders, and bring pillows to sleep on.

This is very different from how we experienced high school, both as high school students, and as former high school teachers in Canada. Since you moved classes between every subject, your desk was just an impersonal place to sit and be used by the next student. Our lockers were the only personal part of our high school career, and those were locked up tightly and often decorated with photos of friends and/or stuff we liked.

Korean students, on the other hand, have a single homeroom class that they stay in for the whole year. It’s the teachers that move between the classrooms. The students might leave that classroom once or twice a week to visit, for example, the Foreign English teacher’s classroom or the music room, but most classes are taught in their homeroom class. They also have little shoebox sized lockers, but they are located inside their homeroom classroom and many students don’t even bother to lock them. This environment creates a very important difference between how bullying occurs in North America and Korea. An attack by a bully in Korea can be aimed not just at you as a student, but also at all the stuff you deem important, the stuff you use to make you feel happier in your second home, the second home you study in for 16 hours, with the same students for the whole year. If you are being bullied by a classmate, there is no escape from them since you have to see them all day everyday. We’ve heard cases of shoes being vandalized, tacks hiding under seat cushions, or insults scribbled on desks.

We have heard stories from our Korean co-workers of students secretly fighting and bullying others in the washroom or outside the classroom for money or food, but personally, we’ve never seen that at our former schools. Possibly because we were at very good schools that were very focused on grades and studying, possibly also because our experiences with the students were a bit limited, since we had to teach around 22 different classes per week or so. However, even if you’re at a school that caters to students who are super duper focused on grades, there are forms of silent bullying that we actually have experienced, such as certain students being made 왕따 (wang-dda) which basically means they are made a social outcast and completely ignored by EVERYONE. Even if you don’t personally have a problem with this person, interacting with them will make you a wangdda and then you too will be isolated. In turn, students feel that it’s best to just ignore them as well. This most frequently happens to students who don’t find a social circle to fit into right away. Even if you’re made wang-dda in 1st year highschool, it can continue throughout your whole three years in high school. We were told some students will move schools in an attempt to escape their wang-dda labelling. A wang-dda student can experience bullying from silent ignoring all the way up to physical fighting. It depends on the school and the type of bullies present.

So what can teachers do to prevent this from happening? It seems like not much. When we talked to our Korean co-workers about it, they said that most students will just cast their eyes to the ground and not speak during their interrogation. Whole classrooms can be scolded for their bad behaviour but everyone just remains silent. Sometimes addressing the issue can make life worse for the bullied student, so many teachers feel like ignoring it is the best method. Just one of the big problems we see with Korean school system is that there are no guidance councillors available of any sort. There is no one for the students to confine in when they are stressed out or upset, and seeing a councillor or a psychologist outside of school just isn’t available and is really looked down upon.

If there’s anything we missed out on, or any other stories you care to share about this topic, please do let us know in the comments below. Yeah!

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Bullying in South Korea

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  1. we have long school hours too…for Kindergarten school starts at 7:30am to 11:30am, for Primary and Secondary schools from 7:30am to 12:30pm (plus for those who attend afternoon school – usually Muslim students – they continue school from 1:30 pm to 5:00pm) and not to forget those who attend tutions at night starts from 7:00pm up to 9:00pm ..for college we start from 8:00am to 4:30pm…Yeah…only Uni is not as crazy :)

    as fr bullying in our schools, we don’t get much of those, but it does happen sometimes like boys would end up punching each other and all that but these things are very rare.

    5 years ago
  2. living in the US, the school i went to was pretty big. i used to feel like i was lost in a huge crowd. at least i could go where i wanted and do my own thing. being an outcast in what is like your “second home” must be torture. that’s really unfortunate that there’s no counseling service for kids to go to.

    5 years ago
  3. i know bullying is one of the problems in school that is hard to stop. i had never been bullied after 15 yrs of school (16 now) so i dont really know how the victims feel like precisely. but i hate bullying. for example, i had a friend who had been through this social outcast, wangdda, thing. generally people dont like her because of her lack in studies and how she acts around boys. (yes, my country is the type that took studies important too like korea.) my friends too werent very fond of her. after two years of outcasted, she end up mixing with the wrong bunch. she started going out every weekend, got home at 1 or 3 in the morning, and didnt do her homework. instead of joining the others who outcast her, i decided to help her when in our third year of middle school, she came to me and asked me to help her study for the big exam. in the end, we graduated middle school together with flying colours. she do still went out with the wrong bunch, and wore short clothes but i feel relieved that i helped her from doing something she’ll regret. 
    what wangdda victims needs is support from friends or close relatives. the reason it is quite hard to prevent because of the fear of getting wangdda-ed too. if there’s any chance i’m able to go to a Korean school, i think i’ll be a wangdda too. because i simply likes to stand out. i cant stand having anyone being better than me. and if that do happen, i dont really care. because im used to growing up succeeding on my own. 

    somehow, after reading this post and watching this video, i feel like going to korea and set everyone’s mind back. 

    5 years ago
  4. Hi I’m a senior high school student now in Korea :) I’m graduating this feb.I don’t know if you guys have notice when you taught students at school… mostly, bullying students are sort of participating students at class(at least at middle school). Participating really highly is kind of a reason that students bully ‘them’. In Korea it is not that good to stand out in class(or other society as well) so if someone always participate every single time(it doesn’t matter if the class’ atmosphere is participating/most of the classmates are raising their hand to answer something), students kind of see him or her really weird and yes this isn’t the reason of all bullying but this is 50% bullying reason that i experienced in my school life in Korea for over 10years.Well bullying sort of declines when the kids grow old(like senior in high school or junior in high school ㅡbecause they know now to respect/they know that no one has a perfect personality, neither themselves) I know it is sad but most of the eastern culture doesn’t really embraces “The stand outs” in class. I was part of those students who wasn’t exactly bullying someone but ignoring(because of the fear that they might be also bullied). I know I’m so pathetic to do that and I know I bullied them also in an indirect way…..it’s sad..

    5 years ago
  5.  

    In my experience, I’m
    from Mexico by the way.

     When I was in high school, our school would have a   san
    valentine event for student.  Where since
    February first  you could sent cards and
    stuff to your BFF, BF, GF or whatever.  This
    could be anonymous because you’ll put your letter in a box provided by the
    school and later on in  the day a teacher
    would go around handing the letters  classroom by classroom  and so on everyday till the 14.  

    Then one of those days, this particular girl  was crying because someone had send her a mean
    letter telling her slut and all kinds of mean stuff and so it happened that the
    dean of the school was walking by when she was crying and ask her what was
    going on.

    Then chaos occurred,
    no one would have recess until the culprit was found so the teachers lined us outside
    in the sun for 30 min that our recess lasted and we weren’t allowed to talk or
    eat just stood there like  idiots .This
    lasted like a week or more I don’t remember.

     No one was talking mainly because just like 3
    people knew who was the bully. Then our teachers would take our notebooks to check
    our hand writing and compare them to the letters (oh yes this person send more
    than one letter to different girls).

    Long story short a boy
    was blamed for it so he was going to be expelled then he talked and the real culprit
    was found to be…… a girl, she was popular and pretty but stupid. Then was
    kicked out.. the end.

     Back then I was really annoyed because I was
    stupid too .. I was like what the heck girrrl if some loser tells you that you’re
    a slut in a paper  just ignore it and I
    was fu** mad at that bully girl, me and all high school students in our school
    paid for what she did.

    Now I’m
    glad those strict methods were taken and that the dean stood up for her

    5 years ago
  6. That’s really harsh. I would have to say bullying in the west and east is very different, probably because of the way the society works. I live in Indonesia and bullying is mostly seen through social outcast than anything else. But also something I’ve seen is bullying that’s being passed as playful teasing which is a little scary I guess. Overall bullying isn’t as prevalent in where I’m from compared to Korea or the US. It’s really sad how these kids have to go through this and they can’t do anything about it. Being in school for 16 hours straight is already bad enough but now they have to deal with bullying too?

    5 years ago
    • I’m from the Philippines and yes, I’ve noticed that in Asian schools, the most prevalent way of bullying is outcasting you. I guess it’s part of the culture (since Asians are, more or less, community-oriented).

      5 years ago
  7. i don’t think i would have made it through elementary school without a guidance councilor.  I was bullied because of my learning problems, like not being able to read aloud as well as the other students.  my dyslexia was a constant problem for me in all of my classes.

    I went to the same school from 2nd grade til i graduated high school, so i was with the same people for 10 years with only a few new students every year. Everyone knew everyone else’s business whether we wanted to or not. (my graduating  class was 67 students, the largest graduating class to come out of the school at the time). it was a small non-parochial school in the south in the US.  because we didn’t wear uniforms it was always a way to bully someone, because of their clothes and personal style. 

    Only until i got into high school did i become more out spoken and confident in myself. Wearing what i wanted and owning it.  I fell into the arts and it became my safe haven. i was always in the art rooms with my favorite teachers.  I was friends with the teaching and other staff of the school. i made friends out side of school for the first time and realized that the world was a big place with a lot of different people and different views.  So if someone tried to bully me i would flat out ask them why they didn’t like me. i would just avoid them as much as possible so we wouldn’t have to deal with one another.

    every class period we would go to a different room with a different group of kids sometimes the classes would have students from lower grades as well. And the Seniors left campus during lunch time.

    my senior year was the complete opposite of that of a Korean student. i didn’t start class until 9:20am and left school at 3pm. went to practice from 3:30-4-30. then went to work from 5pm til 9-11pm. on weekends i would hangout with friends. My senior year experience is not the norm for most seniors in the States, but i wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

    5 years ago
  8. Hey guys! Realy good topic. Im from Mexico and “bullying” is a really hot topic now. Is really new here. It started like 3 years ago? something like that.But now is gettig stronger and stronger. To the point of suiciding, killing and even rape. Affortunately in my school is not a big problem but is there. I think that in public school is more severe than in private schools and also in place in the countryside.
    The good thing is that there are campaings to prevent this. They are doing conferences and stuff, even THE POLICE!
    NOw the bad thing is that students are ignoring all this thing. For example in my school, the first graders of middle school are like always bullying other students, IGNORING THEM, juts ike wang-dda and is really upsetting. I was bullied too so is really horrible to be a victim. I hope that government do more effective campaings.
    An about the RIDICOUSLY LONG HOURS, i think is kind of stressing. Imagine, you are more thatn te half of the day in the same place with the same people, with only different teachers, for me is horrible. Maybe if they have like free time to do whatever they want like painting, dancing etc it could be fine. But not. So i think the students need to stressed out so they use “bullying” to entertaian themselves and do something different
    But well i hope government and schools take ccare more about this serious problem.
    Sorry for my english, if there is a mistake hehe.
    Byeeebyee :D

    5 years ago
  9. omg wong-dda is the cheese touch!!!!!! lol (diary of a wimpy kid anybody? . . . no? anyone? . . .)

    5 years ago
  10. I’ve seen a lot of the wang-dda bullying in middle-school, too. I’ve seen a student sit down at a table and the other students already at the table get up and move to another table, students refuse to work in groups or pairs with the ostracized student, etc. I’ve tried forcing them to work together, but it always winds up with them half-heartedly doing the work while I’m standing there watching, and then immediately ignoring the student again as soon as I’ve turned away. My heart always goes out to those wang-dda students. Sometimes they’re dorky or lack social skills, and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it at all. Forcing students to work with them doesn’t help, and unfortunately the student’s English skills and my Korean skills are not up to serving as a counselor for those students. All I can do is try to be friendly and encouraging toward them. I can’t even be angry toward most of the students doing the ostracizing, because they’re just normal kids trying to avoid being ostracized themselves.

    I also live in Bucheon, by the way. *waves*

    5 years ago
  11. Hey guys! Great post and really great information. The fact that the wang-dda status can follow you from school to school is frightening and it really is upsetting that these kids don`t have a safe haven in the form of a person or a hotline.
    This post reminded me of two things though; the episode of `Hey Arnold` when Helga goes to the school psychologist because of her bullying and this wonderful documentary that the `Passionate Eye` on the CBC aired called `Children Full of Life` about a Japanese educator. He inspired me to become an elementary school teacher mostly because of how he deals with the issue of bullying in his class. Again, great work guys!

    5 years ago
  12. Hey Michael, I just wanted to say thanks! I went to the Olweus website and it seems like a really good resource. You`re right that there really isn`t enough done toward prevention or instilling respect and love for one another but there are a lot of awareness campaigns popping up so hopefully that`ll change. It`s funny how the internet can be the greatest resource for bullying, both it proliferation but also hopefully it`s prevention. 

    5 years ago
  13. I am from Polnad. and I am also a teacher. I taught at middle school two years ago. In one class I had 5 children with social problems, from 12 kids with those in the whole school. yeah, that class was hard to teach. :(

    one of them was a boy who bullied everybody, once he even wanted to scary me… he came up very close, too close [he did it all the time in fact] and made a move like he was about to hit me, but I wasn’t afraid, so I didn’t cringe and stood firmly, and he was so shocked that he started to be quite nice to me.
    but he bullied a girl, she was rather weird. she didn’t talk to anybody, didn’t answer questions in front of the class, never spoke aloud. I like her though. she was obviously extremely shy.
    and he punched her, and hit her, and laughed at her, he was mean to her. she had only one girl in a class that wanted to talk to her. she was rather alone then.

    and I was the only one who wanted to help her. who wanted it to stop!

    because that poor girl feeling frustrated and abondoned by people, by adults that should have helped her bursted from anger once in a while…
    and it was the reason that even her homeroom teacher thought that she didn’t deserve helping. and school counselor also told me something like that – they said that this is her own fault.
    I was shocked and disguised… and tried to help her no matter what.
    but yes, sometimes it only brings more trouble for the bullied student, you were right. he bullied her even more for… problems he had with me…
    buuu…
    it was so frustrating and sad. and I was very glad when I ended working there. :(

    btw, at this school students also tried to bully me… but I didn’t give up! and I succeded!

    5 years ago
  14. ah.. bullying… (long post, sorry xD)
     In Germany we also have fixed classes, with the teachers rotating between the classrooms. My schools usually started at 8ish AM and ended between 2-4PM. In primary I didn’t give a damn about what other students thought of someone and would just make friends with the people I liked. I never cared about others opinions and was friends with everyone I liked not giving a damn what others thought about it and my classmates would accept it and I was basically friends with everyone. I was always outside with old friends, or making new friends. We moved to the countryside in 1999, two month into the new school year. I wasn’t from there and didn’t speak quite like everyone else (the local dialect) they started making fun of me already in the morning of my first day in the bus. And it just kept getting worse and worse (so I kept acting sick just so that I didn’t have to go and in the end I missed more then half of the first school year). I purposely was late every morning for the school bus just to make sure my parents would drive me to school. I stayed around school until late in the afternoon as to avoid most of the students while getting home. I stopped getting out of the house in the afternoons because all the kids in my village went to the same school with me or were even in my class. I didn’t even like to go into our own garden and only did so when I absolutely had to or when my parents were with me.
    We did have a teacher we could talk to at school, but it was my homeroom teacher and she knew that I didn’t get along with my classmates. She tried to talk to them and they always ganged up on me and said I was the bad one and that I did stuff to them and they just defended themselves, which was never true. (well.. except for maybe one time when I had enough of them and punched one cos they were throwing things at me during break time) Well, she always believed them.
    I stayed in that class until I was 16years, when I graduated (I came to that class when I was 10yrs). It never got better, it just got worse.
    I never told my parents about it, they only know those bits and pieces from school, when a teacher called them about it. (I didn’t tell them cos I knew that if they would show up it wouldn’t help anyways and would make me have to think about it more at home then I wanted to).

    So..what am I trying to say with all of that, you might wonder. Whenever my teacher started to talk to my class (even when I asked her not to) the bullying just got worse afterwards. Throwing things at me, emptying the bin over my desk or over me..
    It’s hard to help the students when you are an outsider (teacher) and not present 100% of the time, because you never know what is really going on.
    What I wished for at that time was someone from my classmates to stand up and be like me back in primary school. Not caring what others would think and just be my friend, because that would have helped a lot more then anything the teacher would ever be able to do.

    While I think it is good to have psychological help from professionals (which I never had), you have to find a way to get the students to help each other. Civil courage is one of the most important things in this world, but sadly it is not something that kids and teens think much about (and some adults too).

    ah…I think I should stop now or I’ll keep writing for hours..

    5 years ago
    • They tried that in some schools over here to..didn’t work for all. But I guess it is really up to the students and how serious they take it.

      5 years ago
  15. I also wish guidance counselors were provided at schools and that it wasn’t such a stigma to talk to them or visit them.  The kids at my school deny that bullying takes place and that they’ve never seen a bully or people being bullied.  We had class discussions about bullying one week (I had 26 different classes a week that semester) and all of them pretty much said bullying happens a lot in Korea but they have never seen it.  I asked them what would happen if they saw someone being bullied and they said they would ignore it or watch.  That really disturbed me and I said, “You wouldn’t do anything about it?”  One student said, “If we help, we will also be bullied.”  So they ignore it.

    In lighter news, you know, like in Kdramas there’s always THAT one guy who people call “The prince” or whatever in school?  I thought that was just a kdrama thing, but there was one boy in the third year class who everybody called “The King” and they all said he was incredibly handsome and had big muscles (lol).  He was a really respectful student and he always did WHATEVER the teachers asked him to do.  There is another boy in the first year class who is very tall and all of the girls love him and all of the boys want to be his friend.  I saw one of his friends in my winter camp and I asked him if he was friends with that boy.  He answer, “Yes, teacher.  He is very handsome.”  That made me laugh.

    5 years ago
  16. I remember I was bullied in middle school.  I tried being mean back to my bully, but it didn’t work, so I totally switched it up and started being really bubbly and friendly around her.  I would greet her in the hallways and let her borrow pencils and stuff (the cheap ones, in case she didn’t give them back, of course) and magically, the bullying stopped!  I’m not sure if I just confused her or if I was initially being bullied because she thought I was mean, but it did stop! 

    Sadly, the way it sounds from what you’ve said, that just can’t work in the Korean school environment.  It’s tough being bullied; I wish those kids much luck and strength!  They’ll be the stronger people in the long run!

    5 years ago
    • That’s like how I disarmed my bullies, though instead of being friendly I got into this zone and became like a emotionless robot where nothing could hurt me. I just smiled and nodded as they yelled abuse at me, the whole time keeping my shield up. It kinda worked, though it came to a climax one morning were I got punched in the head cos the bully was frustrated cos she wasn’t getting any reaction out of me. We both got sent to the sick bay and we both got THE WORSE talking to by the school counsellor. It was along the lines of “now you sorry your sorry to her, and YOU say sorry to her. Now try to be friends, okay?” (yeah right lady!). The bullying started to subside after that, once the bullies figured out that physical or mental abuse wasn’t going to provoke a reaction out of me.

      5 years ago
  17. With the Korean Drama bullying, I loved it how in Boys Over Flowers you never saw a teacher at the school and the students could do whatever they wanted. I am glad to find out this isn’t true. lol

    5 years ago
  18. I saw all of those posts on tumblr, and some people making plot posts about it, but they were way off base. Nothing was wrong with your Trouble Maker review, some people on the internet are just way too overly sensitive. Obviously they don’t share your opinions, but that doesn’t give them a right to rip your opinions apart when you said nothing wrong about it. You never stated that you thought of HyunA in the way that they said you saw her, just that it’s how the video perceived her to be. If someone called an American artist/The director of said American artist’s MV out for doing the same exact thing, I’m sure the entire conversation would have been different. To be completely honest, what they were making seem such a big deal, really wasn’t and if their not used to opinions (which certain said bloggers actually have really harsh opinions, joking or not), they really don’t know how to use the internet properly.

    All in all though, even if I sometimes disagree with opinions, I respect them, and take into consideration why someone would think in this way.

    5 years ago
  19. they did put a disclaimer in the beginning of video…. they say it like all the time

    5 years ago
  20. is not just happening in schools also offices and the whole korean for that fact…you boss will look down on you and make fun of you and your boss ” boss” will to the same to him or her…ist a bloody chain of bulling. hierarchy stuff…it also happen to me at the police dept. i was trying to get a visa extension ” which i did cuz they had to by law ” but the guy was screaming and looking at me all weird for no reason whatsoever, saying shit about Chinese immigrants… oooook…..well dude i am Spanish and by your KOREAN law you have to give me ok…got it but my good he took he precious time…  

    5 years ago
  21. i think maybe the korean pop stars could help in this case if they would make a campaign or something…

    5 years ago
  22. Bullying can be pretty intense. My senpai’s girlfriend is from South Korea, and even though I didn’t ask what her situation was since it’s none of my business, he did on his own accord tell me she decided to go to school in the States from her intense bullying at home. Senpai never told me if his girlfriend ever planned to move back to Korea (where her family is; she came here by herself) but he gave me the feeling she will at least finish her degree in the States. From what he said, whatever outcast her wasn’t at all that serious, but it got out of hand, or something.

    5 years ago
  23. Perhaps you should elaborate on how the students stay from 7am to 11pm – they don’t literally STAY there all day (what about hagwons!) – it’s more that schools have late night “voluntary-in-theory-but-actually-enforced” studying time at night, or “Yaja”. So they have to return to school after hagwons and having dinner at home and whatnot.

    Most schools also tend to ignore the bullying problem, but it’s more of trying to preserve the SCHOOL’s reputation rather than that of the kids. You always see principals flat-out denying that bullying occurs in their school, or them saying that they “didn’t know” and will do something about it… but don’t. They don’t want their school to be known as the school where kids are picked on, and instead of addressing the issue, they choose to ignore it becuase it’s easier. And of course if anyone intervenes, the bully’s parents complain about it loudly enough that they’ll withdraw any support.

    Of course, parents of the bullies are huge problems, too. Some parents of bullies deny that their child would do horrible things, of course, but some even seem to condone it, because at least they’re able to “stay proud” in school and not cower over others – at the expense of other people’s sense of security and happiness! Those people are uncommon, but they are horrible people, of course.

    5 years ago
  24. Ari

    from 7am to 11pm? seriously? wat do they learn and how can they bear to sit and study the whole time? how come the school makes them stay so late?

    5 years ago
  25. Reminds me of this Japanese dorama called LIFE (Its a really great drama about bullying, bullies, and things that come with it) where the teacher wanted to address the bullying to the main bully girl but the girl  (her father was a big invester for that school) didnt care at all and just slapped her for saying she was a bully. Just watch the drama, its amazing.

    On a sidenote: It may be because I watched this in HD, but you two look incredibly pretty and handsome in this video ;]

    5 years ago
    • I saw life as well. It was pretty intense. But it seems like the same thing arises in Korea, probably no where near as intense as in life. But I’m a new teacher and will be teaching in Korea this March. I hope that I can handle bullying well.

      5 years ago
  26. whats life like as a korean teacher i wanna grow up and be a english teacher there and you guys look like you have a good time teaching there are they like anything like the schools in the states?

    5 years ago
  27. school days are THAT LONG???!!!!! *jaw drops* how do these kids survive??? i’d be like i want my mommy!! but seriously whoa! poor students! i knew they stayed at school for long but not that long! do the teachers stay that long too or is it just students self studying?

    5 years ago
  28. I want more TLDRs!!!!!!

    5 years ago
  29. the school environment is so similar to singapore’s. we have lockers in/just outside our class and we have long school hours at times, but not as long as korea’s, like from 7am-6pm. bullying is also apparent in singapore and we tend to see students/ my peers cutting their arms in depression. But over here, each school has a school counselor and is kinda active in looking out for kids with these problems. however i dont think it is as bad as korea’s bullying. thanks for sharing, guys!

    5 years ago
  30. I wonder if the same thing happens other countries as well? Especially the nearby Asian countries where people go to school for similar number of hours.

    My elementary school in Ontario had a girl with a mild mental disability that was obvious with the way she slurred her speech. We were also spending each school day of all year with the same class.  Though it never escalated to physical violence, many people pretended (or convinced themselves) that this girl smelled so that they didn’t have to stand next to her in line. No one wanted to talk with her.

    I guess the difference with Western countries is that reputation not as fragile here. Eventually a new girl transferred into 8th grade. She shot up the social ladder and spoke with everyone, including the girl with slurred speech. Since the class liked her, they naturally just followed her example and started to be kinder to the strange girl.

    If a popular student tried to include the ostracized classmate in Korea, I wonder if that person would lose their previous established group of friends? If the popular kid can somehow include the wang-dda without being wang-dda themselves, perhaps this may be a way solve some of the bullying problems. Afterall, it may be easier to convince a few nice kids than a whole classroom at once.

    5 years ago
    • yes, it does happen to other country. for example–me. I’m from Indonesia, previously lived in a big city but then moved to a small city which is fucking foreign to me. I moved to there when I was in 8th grade. I kind of oblivious to the language and custom (they use traditional language when speaking w/ each other).
      I’ve been thinking about homeschooling since my 7th grade’s experience isn’t that great–peer pressure everywhere and throws me to public school is the w o r s t i d e a ever but my parents are so stubborn, saying that “homeschooling is expensive”, “you need to socialise more”, and yada yada yada. Yeah, in the end they dump my ass in the public school.

      Sucks.

      My first week there were painfully awkward. People speaking quickly in strange language which I have a little bit grasp on. They looked at me like I was an alien–I have pixie cut hair and wears glasses that’s kinda uncommon here. There were 2 or 3 kids who speak to me but in the end they just leave me alone.
      And then it’s getting worse. No one wanted to sit with me and they starting to call me names and giving me disgusted looks. Not only my classmates but also another kids from another class whom I don’t even know the name.
      I often don’t get mates for group task, and I when got it, I ended up doing the work while other kids just chatting and pretend I wasn’t there. My things were either getting stolen or being thrown to other side of the class. My desk also got scandalised by them; they wrote awful things like ‘stop acts all-pretty’, ‘stuck-up kids’, etc.
      There were teachers who scold me for being ‘socially inept and refused to adapt’, being different from others, and heck, they even scold me just because my hair isn’t as longer as the others! And there’s this one teacher too, who successfully made me cry in her class. Oh also, there’s one teacher who practically eye-rape me/touch my shoulder in too intimate way.

      This is sucks man.

      4 years ago
      • OMG..that really sucks :( where do you live now? I’m Indonesian too and currently living in jogja and school here is so lovely.

        4 years ago
  31. As a psychology student, I would hope that counselors and getting psychological help would be more accepted and embraced in South Korea, especially considering that, I think, it’s currently the country with the biggest suicide rates. I think while bullying is seen here in the states it’s not as, visibly at least, prevalent and perhaps not as bad, because there are many outlets in to which those who are victims of bullying can get help from. I was thinking of going to South Korea for grad school ( I believe there is one school in Seoul there where classes are in English) maybe I’ll think about it more seriously and go there and try to set up a hotline or something.  

    5 years ago
    • Hi Samantha, I’m a fellow Psychology major too! You’d think that such services should be recognized around the world already, but it’s still not as developed in Asian countries. The culture as a whole, tends to internalize issues which makes it harder for students to even seek help. On the other hand, I love your idea of starting something at the community level to spread awareness!

      5 years ago
      • There’s also your or your families reputation to uphold.  When you see someone for help it’s not seen as you going to seek help for your mental health (akin to going to a GP), rather it’s seen as you being a weak person or there being something wrong (abnormal, as my family in the Philippines would say) with you/your family.

        I’m bipolar and when I first went to see a psychiatrist to try to figure out whether it was clinical depression, bipolar disorder or just me, the Dr. asked me to try and find out if there was anyone with similar symptoms in the family history.  That was an easy thing to find out on my dads side of the family, but my mom, whose Filipino, didn’t even want to acknowledge that there was a problem in the first place, let alone trying to admit that I might have inherited it from her side of the family.  Even the fact that she’s a nurse really didn’t effect her long held habit of keeping a front that Asian cultures tend to have.

        Reputation comes before everything and with the brain, where it’s not really widely understood with the public or even acknowledged as being fallible, reputation will come before someones mental health in a lot of these cases.  If they want to make a dent in their suicide rates they have to understand that if a body gets hurt and its acceptable to go to a doctor it should be equally acceptable for someone to seek help when their thoughts are damaged.

        5 years ago
        • I agree someone has to take a stand and not be afraid of what other people think. I blame the public and the Asain mentality of how they think, i love Asain people (Korea, Japan, etc) but i don’t agree with some of the things they do and this is an example.

          3 years ago
  32. No wonder korean netizens are crazy.

    5 years ago
    • We’ve been told that cyber bullying is a big part of the bullying cycle as well.

      5 years ago
    • I remember about twice there were times where bullying had started/gotten extremely out of hand. A few teachers spent the the whole class time addressing previous incidents where students would either commit suicide or went to school carrying a gun and shooting the person(s) antagonizing them.

      Maybe korean schools should also have a day addressing the issue with the same incidents from other countries.

      5 years ago
  33. This was in

    5 years ago
  34. it’s so sad when you hear about bullying situations like this where people know it’s there but not enough is done about it. It really amplifies the whole korean culture influence of where there is this “hierarchy” of “rich/influential” people that can get away with a lot and not just in relations to school students but also in the work environment. In a lot of asian countries the idea of having a “certain image” or “having face” triumphs over what is morally right.. hopefully with the influence of western countries that are addressing bullying as a problem, korea will make a change to this issue.

    5 years ago
  35. But since the physical punishments can exist for anything: being late, not doing homework, and so on, students just get desensitized to it. “Oh, more squats, who cares.”

    5 years ago
  36. In Canada, I myself have had some REEEEEAAAALLY bad experiences with bullying.  Like, really bad.  But the principle at my school would only TALK about things she’ll do to help and honestly nothing ever changed.  I ended up having to wang-da myself just to survive the taunting.  I think that since Korean students spend so much time in school, the school system should step up and adress the issue instead of concentrating on reutation and stuff.  If bullying is really bad in North America WITH initiatives (and we really aren’t in school that much), I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for a student who practically lives at school where there is no initiative.

    5 years ago
  37. I’m not surprised to hear that there aren’t guidance counselors in the schools. What I have learned is that the East Asian countries handle mental needs differently then North America. 

    5 years ago
  38. this is just sad , do they just pick someone randomly to pick on?

    5 years ago
  39. I liked this very much. I was really shocked when I read the students in S.korea have school from 7AM to 11 Pm! they really are som fighters. Impressive to put up with that. 

    5 years ago
  40. I guess what people find surprising is the reasons that the bullying starts, i guess?
    Cause I remember watching an episode of Happy Together with Lee Hyori, and she actually said that older girls would pull her hair and hit her cause she was pretty and the others agreed that it was common.

    5 years ago
    • I had an assignment for one of my classes where I wanted them to rant about whatever was bothering them.  They were to write it in essay form and only I would see it.  A lot of the frustrations were centered around some girl or guy who was very beautiful and they were very jealous.  Or their parents and their grades.

      It’s very weird.  If you’re very attractive or considered attractive, you either get ostracized and bullied or you’re loved and put on a pedestal.  There’s no middle ground and it’s extreme on both ends.

      5 years ago