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Death by School Punishment

Tues June 15

Mirae Kang

A 16 year-old female student died on 2 June at a high school located in Kimpo District of Gyeonggi Province after receiving punishment for being late to school in the morning. The Kimpo police reported, “on 1 June at 8:10AM, the student was ordered to do to multiple ‘squats and stand-ups’ as a punishment with 6 fellow tardy classmates near the entrance of the school. The student collapsed during the process and was sent to a nearby hospital, she passed away at 10AM the next day.”
The Korean press reported that in 2008 the student underwent surgery to remove her gall bladder and in May of this year, surgery for urinary incontinence. She had also been taking long-term medication for treatment.
The school has defended itself in stating that most teachers knew of the student’s condition but due to the large population of students, they were not able to notify every single teacher. Although the punishment may have not been severe, the exertion on the student may have been excessive.

This is not the first incident of excessive school punishment reported in the South Korean media. It is a well-known fact that South Korean schools have disciplined students through physical punishment. In 2006, a high school senior was sent to a hospital after being hit 200 times on the rear for being tardy and not following the school’s hair code. In 2009, another student committed suicide after being punished in the school hallway and was told to write a memorandum to quit school if tardy again.

Following this recent incident, netizens all over have expressed their condolences and disapproval of such punishment with comments such as “we shouldn’t be teaching students by chastising them with punishment” and “was it necessary to punish a sick student?”

Several measures have been taken by the South Korean government to reform and improve the situation but physical punishment is still prevalent in many schools. With local elections recently held on 2 June, many hope that the new progressive superintendents of education for Seoul, Gwak No-Hyun, and Gyeonggi Province, Kim Sang-gon, provide more support for the Student Human Rights Ordinance, a student-led organization advocating for student rights.

The two electees have campaigned for more extensive student human rights which recently led to the eradication of all forms of physical punishment at schools on 19 July. With Gwak No-Hyun’s bold beginning, many expect greater changes and improvement within schools.■

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Categories: Education
  1. September 27, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Wonderful ! This is a great story and good for my experience.Thank you for your sharing.

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