Following School Crackdown, More Kids Punished for Acts of Affection

Wonder Woman Thwarted(Source; edited)

From Korea Realtime:

As Min-gun and Sae-young left their Seoul high school one fall afternoon, they strolled down a tree-lined street more than an arm’s length apart from each other. As they got further away from school, they gradually moved closer together until after a few hundred meters, Min-gun reached over to hold hands with Sae-young, his girlfriend of nearly a year.

If they had linked hands earlier in the day at school, they could have been punished under their school’s code on the Degradation of Public Morals, which prohibits such shows of affection.

Over the past few years, there has been a jump in the number of South Korean high school students punished for hand holding, hugging, kissing or other amorous acts…

Read the rest at the link. Confusedly, it follows a Korea Herald report last month that that the Education Ministry “would prohibit schools from taking disciplinary measures against students for being pregnant or in a relationship.” But Korea Realtime claims that this was only a request, as the Ministry neither sets nor enforces school rules.

Korean Room Cafe HallwayI’d appreciate it if anyone can offer a third opinion, and will try to find a Korean source to translate myself. If it turns out Korea Realtime is correct however, it would greatly surprise and unnerve me that even the Ministry can not prevent the expulsion of pregnant students. Surely that is an obvious violation of their human rights?

Either way, see here for my September post on ‘Room Cafes,’ which seem just about the only place some unfortunate teens can do that “hand holding, hugging, kissing or other amorous acts.” As such, let me reiterate that I’m very glad they exist, because:

…if some teenagers are going to [do those amorous acts] — and some are going to do [them] — then, all other options being barred…, it’s surely best that they do [them] in the safety and relative privacy of a new room cafe. Especially when the alternatives would be dark alleys behind their schools, or in the older, seedier variety of ‘DVD rooms‘ still out there…

Any teachers among you noticed your own schools becoming stricter in recent years? (Source, above)

3 thoughts on “Following School Crackdown, More Kids Punished for Acts of Affection

  1. My middle school seems to not be following any “Degradation of Public Morals” rule. Just this past Friday, I saw not one but TWO young couples engaged in (granted, very minor) physical affection – WITHIN the school gate! I was not the only teacher to witness this, and my Korean colleagues didn’t seem to mind. I have also witnessed some of my students holding hands with their girlfriends/boyfriends in the halls between classes. Perhaps my school takes a more lenient view on relationships and PDA.


  2. My sense is that “rights” broadly aren’t understood in Korea the way they are in a Western democracy. Labor rights legislation exists, but is routinely violated., and nobody calls anyone on anything but the most gross and excessive violations. Human rights legislation exists, but it also often gets ignored… and those whose rights get violated often seem to be convinced they have to put up with it, that they have no real recourse, or that the laws are, you know, abstract and almost theological rather than practical and specific.

    At the last university where I worked in Korea, my former employer certainly violated the human and labor rights of a foreign student who was fired from his teaching assistant position for being openly homosexual, and threatened with expulsion. It was a Catholic school, but as he pointed out, Catholic institutions of education in his home country had no such issues; the school kicked out any leg it had to stand on when it said the firing was not on religious grounds (since he was in violation of no religious law: he wasn’t sexually active at the time, nor was he attempting to initiate such activity with other students in the dorms from which he was expelled; he was well-liked by students and supervisors), but rather on cultural ones: that were he Korean, he’d know that he is supposed to keep that stuff secret.

    (Finally, I think it was an issue of a few bigots in the dorms complaining of being “uncomfortable” with a reportedly gay man living in the dorms, and the risk of them spreading rumors about it. If they hadn’t done *something* they’d look like they were tolerating homosexuality. Tolerating homosexuality (the self-identification of the “sinner”) IS the official Church doctrine, but try explain that to students who feel comfortable coming out with shit like “gays are disgusting” in a classroom setting.)

    They held the threat of expulsion over his head for a year, before deciding to “let” him stay enrolled, albeit without the funding or job he’d been given as an enticement to enroll. The last I heard, he was looking at other schools to transfer to who were less anti-gay. But I can say the school administration was so stupid that they actually rebuffed the ambassador from his home country, who visited in an attempt to intervene. After they’d already made it clear they were committing a human rights violation, and NOT on the basis of religious reasons! (Which to me clearly means they didn’t take the legal ones seriously.)

    The school opted to shut down internet access on campus for a week (outside of department offices) to try keep the news covered up. They needn’t have bothered; several profs spoke out against it, in classes, and tried to make sure the news spread, but even the non-bigoted students didn’t give much of a shit, and didn’t really get why the school violating someone’s human rights was, you know, something to take seriously.

    Like I said: not well-understood, not-internalized.

    And when it comes to kids, well: pretty much they’re the most despised, rights-deprived, and openly disrespected members of any modern society, let alone Korea, where the excessive beating of children and all kinds of other child abuse seem (from the things I see among parents and kids we’re tutoring) to remain well within the range of mainstream parenting techniques.

    (I could tell stories that would… well, I can’t say they’d curl your hair, I suppose, but they really have horrified us.)


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