Assault Case of Deaf Students Sparks Regionalism Debate

Mary Hill, dormitory where the assault took place

In the wake of last year’s blockbuster film 도가니 (‘Dogani’, or ‘The Crucible’), which depicted the true story of the systematic sexual abuse of children in a school specialized for deaf students, there was public outcry. The film rose awareness of sexual assault crimes in Korea, which tend to go unnoticed since they are deemed shameful by many. In the case of ‘Dogani’, the abusers received light sentences and some even returned to work in the same school. Korean law is still seen as very lenient when it comes to punishing sexual offenders, and the heated debate still continues. Jeolla Province (region where the school is located) received a lot of negative press, but on February 9th, a case said to be similar to the one in the film ‘Dogani’ emerged – in the Gyeongsang region.

From edaily:

Another ‘Dogani’ incident – Sexual assault of deaf students in Ulsan

Just like with Gwangju Inhwa School [the school at the centre of attention in the film ‘Dogani’], the horrifying sexual assault occurred within student living facilities, involving half its male population.

Gwangju Inhwa School, at the centre of attention in the film Dogani

On February 9, 2012, the Ministry of Health and Welfare disclosed the occurrence of the abuse case involving 13 male students aged between 13 and 18 years old at ‘Mary Hill’ situated in Jungsan-dong (Buk-gu, Ulsan).

The assault consisted of the sexual abuse of new junior students who were led into the dormitory bathroom and assaulted by their seniors. It is estimated that the sexual abuse occurred continuously for a span of two years. Specialist in-depth interviews revealed that there were 10 victims and 9 perpetrators.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Health and Welfare said that “we found that 6 out of the 10 of those who were assaulted in turn sexually assaulted other students.”

Mary Hill was built prior to 1950 as living facilities for the deaf. The facilities, located next to a school for deaf people and made compatible for those attending the specialist school, accommodated 35 male students, 21 female students, and 30 helpers.

When the incident came to light, some of those students involved in the case were separated to go live in other facilities, while the others were sent home. Furthermore, the director of the facilities was replaced, and criminal charges are now being taken against him by the Ministry.

Those who committed the sexual assault are still minors, but the Ministry predicted that if the sexual assaults are proven to have been forced, then criminal prosecution is possible. However, given that the victims and their parents refuse to testify, the sex offence has yet to be the subject of complaint, and it is not yet known whether the investigation will proceed smoothly.

With this latest incident, the Ministry of Health and Welfare also revealed the results of the joint public-private investigation into the last incident of sexual abuse at Gwangju Inhwa School which had great social repercussions.

The Ministry revealed the results of the joint public-private investigation team, which included 140 civil-rights activists: from October 28 to December 22 of last year, of the 200 handicapped surveyed who resided in [specialized] living facilities, there were 59 confirmed cases of human rights abuse.

Protest against Inwha School, depicted in Dogani

Cha Hyeon-mi, head of Support for the Rights and Interests of the Disabled, said that “even though the deaf suffer from [this kind of] violence, it is difficult to hear their voice, and in the long-run, there seems to be many victims,” further adding that “there should be plans to ensure incidents like this one never occur again, through the strengthening of sex-education for the deaf.”

Comments from Nate:

고인기:

For all those who were bitching about Jeolla province during the Inwha School scandal – why don’t you look at this

박수빈:

hoel!…. I live in Ulsan Northern District…. My friend does volunteer work there… ㅜㅜ*sigh* this world is so filthy

유은상:

They are beasts, capital punishment plz. Pleasuring themselves with those whom they are supposed to help, they are not even human.

안종호:

It can be assumed that almost all replies that harp on regional prejudice are by the paid workers. The deeper the regional hatred, the easier it is to manipulate.

정소윤:

I dare you to say “Gyeongsangdian” comments just like you used to drop “Jeolladian” comments. But I don’t see any?

임성준:

The Joella province trash-talkers have all disappeared. Hey guys, it happened in Gyeongsang province as well, not just Joella province. I have no desire to play on regional hatred and I always try to stop those who talk shit about Gyeongsang province here. Can’t keep your chin up, can you??? Who among the young people are steeped in regionalism??? Only grandpas in their 70’s and 80’s with gas cylinders do that shit. Some idiot looking like a uni-student was doing “Jeolladian” shit and I fucking laughed at him.

박혁:

Gyeongsang folks will either keep silent or try to frame Jeolla province into it ke ke ke ke ke

한승원:

Crime stories about other provinces (especially Gyeongsang Province) do not usually have regional comments but there are sociopaths or p/timers who always search out crimes in Jeolla province and try to manipulate regional hatred. In fact it is clear who benefits the most from this. It is a ploy to denigrate Joella province which is more politically progressive than the extreme right-wing Saenuri Party. It’s very obvious from the ‘clean web usage-o-meter’ of those ones who encourage regional hatred. ㅋ Those with fucked up clean web-usage-o-meters really believe they do that out of sense of duty? Or because they promote it because they have some fringe benefits ㅋㅋㅋ

김지훈:

Where are all of those who promote regional hatred?

박하형:

Where are those who jump on Jeolla province? The sexual crime issue is not limited to Gyeongsang or Joella provinces, it’s a national issue. Just because it happened in a particular place does not mean it is not your problem. We should have a sense of solidarity and resolve this as a whole. Frankly, nowadays I doubt there are that many regional natives anyhow. It is a problem for all of us…

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  • Wang that!

    Sofa

    • Wang that!

      now wanting to get off the sofa to beat the crap out of those perverts!!! T___T

  • Bruce Tutty

    The comments complain about how terrible this is, then forget about the people in the article, and start arguing about who’s province is better!

    No wonder things like this happen if people are more concerned about themselves than those in the story.

    How selfish.

    • Brett Sanbon

      There was a similar issue (last year i think) in Jeolla province. A lot of netizens then began posting how bad and uncivilized the people are from there.

      I think these guys are now using this instance to clear their or their(province’s) name.

      The problem isnt any particular place. Koreans still see physical handicaps as equal with mental retardation and treat them differently.

      Until they figure out that the deaf kids are people too than this ia gping to continue

  • From what I have been reading it does not matter what provenance the school is located it is the system in which the residential schools for the deaf are based upon. There needs to be a better management for the school administrators but from the looks of it the administrator are brushed off with warnings because they have fabricated a social image that has become respectable that others within the community are unwillingly to go against them. The Korean community in Korea need to realize that those who have a hearing impairment are not handicapped or disabled they are individuals like anyone else and function the same in society except that they are deaf. NO ONES PERFECT we all have problems. I, for one am “blind” I need glasses to see at night.

  • courtney

    stop trying to pass the buck because as long as that happens you yourself are just as guilty . Wrong is wrong no matter where it happens. and we must look at the victims and help them any way that is possible

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  • cmm

    yo pienso que no importa de que nacionalidad seas , ni que religion tengas, ni que discapacidad tengas , NADIE JAMAS , DEBERIA DE ATREVERSE A LASTIMAR A ALGUIEN INDEFENSO ,estoy tan admirada del valor que tuvieron esos ninos de enfrentar a sus agresores , Y ala misma ves tan asqueada de que el dinero y poder sea lo principal para alguna gente por asi llamarles,pero confio plenamente en que algun dia se hara justicia para los inocentes…

  • Zakura Q Akazukin

    Labus along nalulungkot ,mula ng mapanood ko ang silenced ,may naramdaman along hapdi at kirot sa puso ko,kung ang mga taong may pandinig at nakakapag salita nahihirapan makatanggap ng hustisya paano pa ang tulad nila,nakakalungkot isipin na kayhirap makamit ang hustisya sa mga maliliit at ordinaryong tao…

    Umaasa ako at nininiwala na makakamit nila ang justice.

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