Expat Dribble

Andrea Avery Jackley: An expat with lots of dribble to write about.

6.4.09

I had heard rumors about domestic violence being a hidden problem in Korea, making it easy to claim “out of sight, out of mind” for locals and complete ignorance for newcomers like me; but its been confirmed, not just by word of mouth but in the actual media, recently.

Several times I’ve been told by students that, “it’s ok to hit him!” when they witness their classmates misbehaving (and for any liberal/hippie readers, my choice of the word “him” is quite deliberate; all the troublemakers have been male). Any born-and-raised Westerner is going to cringe at this suggestion, if not for moral reasons then for the thought of the repercussions; especially in a room full of elementary-aged students! But it’s quite an acceptable practice here. 

Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not totally opposed to a slap on the wrist for a student who’s causing havoc, although I’m still not sure my ingrained, overly-cautious American attitude would let me be the perp. But after one of my advanced students told me this evening that a teacher in his school made it a common practice to “beat” his children with an aluminum baseball bat (it used to be wooden, but apparently out of pity he switched to the lighter version) while cussing at them, I was admittedly disturbed. 

Apparently June, who’s a sweet, intelligent and hardworking 15-year-old boy, had been beat just this morning. He confesses that it might have been more of a shock to him since he has spent the last couple of years living and studying in Australia, which is, for all intensive cultural considerations, a Western-oriented nation. “I haven’t been beat for two years,” he tells me. 

In the Korea Herald this morning I read an article that enraged me, entitled Firm sues dead actress for being beaten – and wins, see here: http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/NEWKHSITE/data/html_dir/2009/06/05/200906050055.asp. In a nut shell, the famous actress Choi Jin-sil has been sued posthumously, and successfully, for showing up on television and in newspapers with her face full of bruises caused by her husband’s violence – a retired and relatively well-known baseball player.

“The purpose of the brand model contract is to use the model’s social reputation and images to draw the customers’ interest,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling. “The model’s failure to maintain an adequate image constitutes a breach of the hiring contract.”

My Korean friends have told me about the male-domination that runs rampant in Korea, but this elevates it to scary territory. By the way, Choi Jin-sil hanged herself, citing negative media chatter and gossip as the main reason for her tragic decision. All I have left to say is: Feminist Feeding Frenzy!

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