Daegu Education Chief Blames Suicide Rate on Dead President

Taegu Education Chief

Daegu education cheif Woo Dong-gi has come under some fire from netizens and citizens alike for allegedly attributing the high suicide rate in his region to, among other causes, the high-profile suicide of former president Roh Moo-hyun that brought Korea to a standstill in 2009.

From Daum:

Superintendent of Education says ‘Aren’t student suicides the fault of the former President?’, causes uproar on SNS sites

Woo Dong-gi, the Daegu education superintendent, stirred much controversies by attributing cases of student suicide in his region to the ex-late president Roh Moo-hyun.

On May 2nd, during the phone interview with YTN regarding the suicide of 7 middle- and high-school students in Daegu he said ‘Many in high social position, including the ex-late president Roh, are killing themselves to avoid facing the problems in life,’ and ‘rather than discussing the effectiveness of counter-measures, the larger problem is the social environment and cultural factors that are at work.’

He evaded any direct responsibility by adding ‘these social factors are being exposed directly to students and young adults without any filter. Suicide prevention measures are so complex that schools by themselves can only achieve very little.’

The Taegu education superintendent giving testimony

Woo defended his policy by criticizing the media for ‘publicizing the suicide note, which no other countries in the world does,’ and concluded that ‘suicide (by jumping off the roof) is a national phenomenon. We have 1 or 2 students difference from the national average but it is not just in Daegu.’

This news caused great consternation and criticisms from SNS.

Pediatrician Seo Chon-seok wrote on his Twitter (@suchs) “No wonder students are dying by droves in such a place where they elect this kind of superintendent. Is this actually coming from a superintendent of a city where 9 students died in such a short period of time? Utterly shameless.’

Political commentator Seo Young-seok (@du0280) also chided in: ‘the person in charge of education in Daegu shat on himself by blaming Roh-Tong, without a shred of self-reflection and self-blame.’

Comments from Daum:


Can’t believe he is an education superintendent.. this is nuts!


The ones who should kill themselves are people like Mr. Woo, but they never do. You slimebag, you deserve everything that’s coming to you.


Being born as a Gyeongsangdian is a sin.


Perhaps children in Daegu are reaching heaven so fast,,, because of people like him? Gotham Daegu has quite a few of these,,, a daughter of commie for one… [Daegu is often referred to as Gotham Daegu on the internet as many say it is a grim city with high crime and suicide rates]


Wait! Just in case if you are confused… superintendents are not actual educators! They are educational ‘administrator’… Not for education but for performance and efficiency… They are out on the field interfering with teachers trying to do their works…


Children’s suicides are to blame ex-president…. children’s lies and future corruptions are to blame current president… you fucking twat.


Dare we badmouth the only city in the country with no free lunch for children for fear of bankrupting the entire nation, Daegu…


Trashy education superintendent elected by trash…


Werter effect? Isn’t it not a proven fact that suicide by those in high social position have widespread impacts?


Of course a man from Daegu…..you even seem like a Daegu bastard


Gotham Daegun, the place even if Chun Doo-Hwan were to return again, all the votes would be funnelled to the one candidate


Is he for education or using this as launchpad to get into national politics?


I guess he wants a seat from Saenuri… The current administration seems to highly value these kind of folks… Maybe he will join the Park Geun-hye camp?


It’s because people like him are responsible for education in Daegu that Daegu becomes Gotham Daegu

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  • mouse

    This is ridiculous. I can’t believe these words came out of his mouth. So what about all the suicides that happened before Pres. Roh? Who are you going to blame for those?


    • Brett Sanbon

      I dunno. I think he just wanted to sound convincing so he threw in Roh’s name. He had an okay thing going until he inserted his foot into his mouth.

      I know quite a few people that believe Roh didnt kill himself…. but thats all movie stuff anyways.

    • Vince

      Look at the words that he actually said:

      “Many in high social position, including the ex-late president Roh, are killing themselves to avoid facing the problems in life…”

      He never said anything like the headline makes him out to have said: It’s just media hype.

      • mouse

        Copycat suicide has little to do with the suicide rate in Korea. It’s stupid to say that is the reason and not only does it push away, once again, the real source which is depression, but it makes all other suicides seem like just a whim which is very disrespectful to the children who attempted suicide.

        Maybe he should look at his education system which causes a lot of unnecessary stress and look to discipline unruly bullying which are rampant and created by the system. Instead of blaming celebrities and taking the easy way out.

        • Vince

          He didn’t even say that was the reason either. He just tangentially pointed out that it was the case that high-ranking figures had also committed suicide.

          I direct you again to what he actually said, which was quite reasonable: “the larger problem is the social environment and cultural factors that are at work”. Whether he was right in saying that there’s very little individual schools can do is another matter, but he wasn’t making a stupid claim.

  • Stories of butts

    The headline and what he actually two different things. Headlines made it seem like he actually blamed the dead president for the high suicide rates, but he was just adding him as an example since his suicide was such a big thing. Im starting to wonder if anybody actually read what he said.

    • choi.j.youngchan

      bingo :)

  • Jang

    Good point Vince, it’s not the first time words have been twisted. Even if the good Daegu education chief said what the media says he said were true, he would have a point. Nonetheless, this reminds me of that American short track speed skater named Apolo Anton Ohno! The media certainly twisted his words to stir up the netizens.

  • Attaboy

    He is right. The same culture and society that sainted President Roh while his body was still warm is one that embraces suicide as a solution to humiliation, shame, revenge, and financial crises. Have you seen the cartoons that play in the subway stations asking people not to kill themselves when they have had a bad day? Roh wasn’t the cause, but the most visible symptom of an epidemic that is not limited to Daegu. And the fact that many of the Korean responses above call for the administrator to kill himself only reinforces this. When any public figures shames themselves or others, calls go out for them to jump off their own cliff. You never hear how the one who committed suicide left their babies without a father or mother, abandoned their wives in financial ruin, decimated the lives of those who loved them, or took the easy way out. The ancient honorable suicide is alive and well in Korea.

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