Bullied over being mixed race, Korean teen turns to arson
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Bullied over being mixed race, Korean teen turns to arson

Original article in Korean is at this link.

On the 25th of last month police arrested a 17-year old boy for setting fires in the trash heaps near his home in the Hwayang-dong neighborhood of Seoul and for throwing molotov cocktails at a middle school building. The boy has fair skin and blue eyes because he has a Korean father and Russian mother. Security camera footage shows him throwing the firebombs and cheering. When police asked him why he did it, he said that “when I look at the fires I feel good and my anger goes away.” The teen also said that “I am clearly Korean but to the people around me I am neither Korean nor Russian. I’m a half-breed.”

According to the results of the investigation released on the 15th, the boy’s father met his mother while he was studying abroad, and they then married. They soon had two sons. In 1996 the father was killed in a car accident in Moscow, and the mother left the home, leaving the two boys on their own. Their Korean grandparents, who ran a small shop, came and brought them to Korea.

For the brothers, life in Korea was difficult. Their appearance made them the target of ridicule by other children, who would say things such as “Hey, halfie!” and “Russians go back to Russia.” When the teen was in the second year of middle school he became extremely depressed and received psychiatric treatment for six months, after which he dropped out of school. During the next two years he would run away from home almost as regularly as he ate meals, but completed a school equivalency certification at his grandparents’ urging. Last year he entered high school.

He found school life as difficult as ever, however. He wound up rarely going to school. Two months after starting, he dropped out again. A teacher at the school who was in charge of student guidance said that “he almost never came to school, and he couldn’t seem to find anyone at school to be his friend.”

Last June his grandmather was killed in a car accident while looking for him after he had run away from home. He left again. He continued to get involved in fights and thefts.

His grandfather, standing next to him after he had been arrested for setting the fires, could hardly speak as he wept, police said. On the 11th the teen was indicted on several counts of arson. Prosecutors say he knowingly set fire to buildings in which people were sleeping. A member of the police said that “it looks as if his anger over the constant ostracism and bullying and guilt over the death of his grandmother led to the fires.”