This article contains graphic images
“She was covered in blood and was lying on the floor, with a hat covering her face…”
These were the words that a witness used to describe the horrific bullying incident in Busan of South Korea which caused global outrage after the victim’s story was posted online. A group of middle school girls brutally attacked and nearly killed a 14-year-old girl with a metal pipe, a chair, several soju (alcohol) bottles, and lit cigarettes. A nearby CCTV caught all of the acts on tape, and the records showed that the girls attacked the victim for an hour and a half, then left her on the ground to die.
The girls then took pictures of the bloodied victim after the attack and sent it to other students to “brag” about what they did.
A passerby saw the young girl in the hidden alley, covered in blood, with a cap covering her face, and after seeing her condition, rushed her immediately to the hospital. Photographs revealed that she had extremely deep cuts throughout her scalp (presumably from the soju bottles) and her face was bruised, bloodied, and swollen to the extent where she was unrecognizable.
The attackers turned themselves in 2 hours after the attack and confessed to the crime. When asked why they did it, the girls nonchalantly replied that they “didn’t like the victim’s attitude.”
The victim’s mother had reported the incident, but was brushed off by the Busan police. In response, the parents took photographs of their child and shared the story online, in hopes of raising awareness about the incredulous actions of the police. This story has since then been plastered all over social media, dominating the news.
Such an outcry has led to the father of the girl mainly responsible for the act to come forward and release a public apology to the victim and her family. The situation has escalated to the point where the contentious subject of the Juvenile law has been mooted. There have been increasing demands for South Korea to reevaluate and thus amend the Juvenile Protection Act that outlines the social and legal provisions surrounding minors. The issues raised with this situation, however, are with regards to the protection of juveniles from certain consequences. In this case, the two 13-year-old attackers (the other two were 14) have been exempted from any form of investigation and punishment.
This, then, brings up the question of how far the government should go to brush off the irresponsibilities of minors. Can age be an excuse for our actions?
There are, as of now, over 200,000 signatures signed on a petition on the Blue House homepage, demanding the abrogation of such a law. In the end, despite such dark realities lurking in a country we often deem as safe, such action taken by citizens may hint at a sign of hope – especially when considering how such cases are finally getting the appropriate attention it calls for. In fact, this case has also helped feature numerous bullying reports from all around Korea and bring to light such issues that had been largely ignored by the South Korean government in the past.