A middle school student was bullied by four boys on the roof of an apartment building and died from the fall from it last Tuesday, which was utterly shocking. Reportedly, the victim, a 14-year-old boy with a Russian mother, suffered constant harassment and bullying from his classmates. Public uproar was fueled further as it has been revealed that one of the classmates responsible for the boy’s death wore the victim’s jacket at the time of arrest. It is beyond my head how the mother must have felt when she left a comment on social media, identifying the jacket as her son’s.
The middle school boy had suffered such brutal violence. At 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday, the four teenagers called the victim and beat him for two hours in a park until he started to bleed. It did not stop there; they brought the boy to the roof at 5:00 p.m. on the same day, and beat him again for one hour and 20 minutes before the tragic fall occurred. The four young assailants did not show any remorse; in fact, they denied wrongdoings when arrested and owned up to them only after the police showed them surveillance footages.
The case is even more heartbreaking as the victim comes from a multicultural family. It is reported that the four teenagers would trespass the victim’s house to order in food or force him to run errands, exploiting his minority status. The number of students from multicultural families in South Korea surpassed 100,000 last year, rising over 10 percent from the previous year, but they are at least four times more likely to drop out from school than their counterparts from Korean families. It is vital that schools and local communities offer the necessary attention and support to address the difficulties that children from multicultural families face, such as prejudice and ostracizing.
The series of cases involving teenage criminals, such as the kidnapping and murder of an elementary student in Incheon and the bullying attack in Busan, remind me of the increasingly cruel nature of teenage crimes in South Korea. The brutalization of our teen’s crimes in the country, however, shouldn’t just be deplored; it should prompt a set of proactive actions. Humanistic education is not optional, but crucial as it can help our youths learn how to empathize with others and instill ideal values into them. But their parents and schools are driving their kids into the fierce competition for better grades and college entrance, with the vital agenda of character-building put on the back burner. We cannot afford to have monsters without a moral compass as the future leaders of our society; it is time for us to think more seriously as to what we really need to do.