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One good Samaritan vs. countless onlookers

Posted April. 08, 2013 07:42,   


A woman in her twenties with intellectual disability walked on the street naked in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province on Thursday. About 50 passers-by and dozens of shop owners watched her. Countless number of drivers passing the six-lane road might have witnessed her as well.

However, only one person, a 29-year-old clerk at a shop, extended a helping hand. The clerk in a blouse had to ask a woman passing by if she could lend her jacket, which was just declined. The good Samaritan ran to three female clothing stores to ask for help but she was turned down. The situation ended when police officers, who came at the clerk’s call, helped the troubled woman to wear underwear they bought for her, cover her body with their jackets and took her away on a police car.

But this was not the end of the story. At least 10 people posted pictures and videos on the Internet. A delivery guy even stopped his way to customers to videotape the helpless and naked woman. A driver even followed the woman and videotaped the scene. As recently as Sunday morning, video clips of the woman were available on portal sites with search words related to Mokpo, such as a naked woman and woman video clip. A lot of people commented, saying, “Thank you (for the video),” or “I enjoyed it!”

In 1964, a young woman in her twenties named Genovese was stabbed to death near her home in New York City. During a 35-minute period of the dreadful crime, 38 neighbors watched a killer assaulted and stabbed the woman from their windows. Not one person helped or called the police during the attack. Psychologists said those onlookers might not have telephoned the police not wanting to be involved in the manslaughter or thinking somebody else must have been calling the police. Some of them might have mistakenly thought the situation was not that serious based on the reactionless situation.

What happened in Mokpo is more resentful than the case in N.Y., however. People who watched someone`s plight without helping deserve criticism, but sadly, they used the incident to satisfy their degraded taste for peeping at others’ privacy. Larger number of people were involved in the Mokpo case than the N.Y. case. Despite witnessing one person trying to help the poor woman, people exploited her as the prey of Internet portals. The happening surrounding the Mokpo case might be attributed to the current era, which anyone with a smartphone can send instant messages to the world. Preparing for emergency situations such as a big traffic accident or a heart attack, people might need to develop and wear clothes with a function that displays a message saying, “Take your pictures first, but please don’t forget to call 911.”

Assistant City Editor Lee Dong-yeong (argus@donga.com)