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KTU Accused Local Headmasters of Schoolmaster Seo to Kill Himself

KTU Accused Local Headmasters of Schoolmaster Seo to Kill Himself

Posted April. 09, 2003 21:59,   


With regard to the case where Seo Seung-mok, headmaster of Boseong Elementary School in Yesan, South Chungcheong Province, killed himself last week, the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers` Union (KTU) on April,9 said that it would take a decisive action to go to the bottom of the case, accusing local schoolmasters` group of pressuring him to take his own life. With the KTU determining to take a strong action against the suicidal case, future development regarding the case is drawing public attention.

The KTU hold a press conference April, 9 and maintained, “It is inappropriate for some people to pass all responsibility for the headmaster`s suicide to the KTU at a time when an investigation into the case is underway. The headmaster might have felt a sense of responsibility and despair caused by the oppressive atmosphere at the local headmasters conference and by the suspension of talks dealing with issues part-time teachers and their treatments because of collective protests mounted by some local headmasters. Such circumstances might have driven him to kill himself.

Representatives from the KTU insisted, “Two days before the headmaster Seo killed himself, local headmasters at a meeting that took place April.2nd threatened to mount a collective protest against the demand for issuing a written apology from the KTU. Right after the meeting, they saw headmaster Seo`s hardened face.” The KTU called for the local headmasters conference to make public what was going on that day`s meeting.

The KTU said that this case was caused by undesirable educational environment in which teachers are forced to provide menial services and by unstable job security for part-time teachers. Therefore, it is urgent to address such unreasonable educational practices and improve the educational environment.

The KTU proposed schools across the nation to carry out a research on gender discrimination in school and establish a conflict arbitration body.

The teachers` union accused the media for trying to pinpoint the union as the main source of the suicidal case when reporting the case in a biased manner. It also said that the KTU would take a counter action against the media when gathering relevant documents on the case is completed.

A number of people from educational organizations in Korea said that the teachers union should have regretted using aggressive means to have people listen to its demand.

The Superintendents meeting in Yesan also said that the union should offer their apology first for driving the headmaster to kill himself.

Lee Kyung-ja, secretary general of a parents` group, said that the union should have shown themselves exercising self-examination and reflected on their conduct first. However, it is lamentable for the union to take offensive posture.

sungchul@donga.com layra@donga.com