South Korea: Case tests legal system’s approach to bullying
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South Korea: Case tests legal system’s approach to bullying

Original article in Korean is at this link.

There has been considerable interest in a case in which students who bullied classmates over a period exceeding one year have been punished by a court. Although it involved little physical violence or theft of belongings, the victimized student suffered insults and threats over an extended period of time and the case is being seen as a measure of police willingness to crack down on such long-term bullying.

The Seodaemun Police Station in Seoul announced on the 9th that it had arrested 17 students, including 15-year old A as the leader of the school gang (일진회), for insulting and bullying classmates for more than one year. Police say eight of the students could be prosecuted for assault.

Police plan to refer those students to prosecutors for mandatory, non-custodial indictment.

According to police, student A and the others refused to admit student 15-year old student B and 12 other students to their group, then bullied them from February of last year through March of this year by insulting them and hitting their heads. They chose on student in each class group to be the target, then insulted and threatened them in front of their classmates to ensure their ostracism.

One Seodaemun police officer said that “although there was no severe violence or theft, the victimized students suffered for a long time and were affected psychologically… all 13 of them considered suicide.” The officer added that “when people think of school violence the first thing that comes to mind is physical assaults, but we believe that this kind of hidden ostracism is what leads to that and so we made the arrests.”

The school involved has said that it plans to deal severely with student A and the other seven who participated in violence.