The K-drama The Glory has reached new milestones while bringing attention to school violence and bullying. However, were they able to properly depict the struggles of the youth in dealing with these issues?
#Bangkokpost: After Netflix K-drama The Glory, which was about school bullying, was launched at the end of 2022, it raised awareness about the problem and many Thai netizens often discussed it. #Opinion #Netflix #TheGlory https://t.co/0zkoyBRfvu pic.twitter.com/JbLvrOGv06
— Bangkok Post (@BangkokPostNews) January 16, 2023
School Violence in K-drama and Reality
School violence and bullying aren’t new concepts anywhere in the world. It is prevalent to some degree in every school. However, matters get worse as the little fights of youth force them to become victims suffering from its effects for a lifetime.
- According to a 2022 survey conducted in South Korea, the percentage of students suffering violence went up to 3.8 percent in primary schools, 0.9 percent in middle schools, and 0.3 percent in high schools in 2022. It is greater than 2.5 percent, 0.4 percent, and 0.18 percent respectively than in 2021. Therefore, it isn’t surprising to see K-dramas and films covering the topics of school violence as plots and subplots.
The level is bullying in k-drama got me scared, like this kind of bulling really happen in real life?
— Ms Tomi (@TommyPearlDee) January 30, 2022
- This representation of victims voices their sufferings, struggles, and serious aftermaths of facing the bullying. It also works as a reminder for authoritative figures to not underestimate the gravity of matters. Bullies and authorities often report having no awareness of the effects their ‘joke‘ was having on the victim.
Let’s refer to some K-dramas that tried to bring awareness about school violence and its ill aftermath.
The Netflix K-drama, The Glory starring Song Hye-Kyo in a different image tells the woeful tale of a victim of bullying trying to take revenge. The severity of violence in its scenes makes people wonder if it is an exaggeration. However, K-dramas (although a work of fiction) don’t fall far from real-life cases.
- One of the most horrifying scenes of bullying comes at the beginning of K-drama where the school bully burns the body parts of the protagonist with a hair iron. The scene is directly taken from a real 2006 Cheongju bullying incident. Even after that, the teachers at the school dismiss the complaints by saying ‘friends hit each other at times’.
- The narrative of the K-drama starting from these incidents passes through a long journey of 2 decades following the effects of the violence on the protagonist. Through this, it brings the audience closer to her sufferings and the severity of school violence. The Glory simply presents reality in graphic details.
Similar to The Glory there was another K-drama covering school violence that reached the top of the rating charts. In the K-drama Beautiful World, student Park Seon-ho falls from the rooftop of his school.
- Following this incident, videos of him suffering from bullying surfaced online. However, the school hushes the matters away with minimum punishment for the delinquents. This prompts the Park family to take matters into their own hands.
- This K-drama focuses on the emotional impacts of bullying and its aftermath. It shows the bitterness of the world as the family struggles to find any lead behind their child’s incident.
- Here, even after the bullies are found they plead their actions were ‘just for fun’. These words match the reported words of the real-life bullies of Kwon Seung-min who unfortunately couldn’t receive the happy drama ending and was lost by suicide in 2011 after suffering school violence.
Not a Korean but I taught in Korea for 2 years and I was shocked at how lenient the rules are when it comes to punishing students for bullying. There was a pretty serious case and the kid got away with it and just got ‘suspended’ (it was school vacation anyways??).
— YT/IG/TT: The Musing Girl SA (@KaySesoko) January 5, 2023
There are many more mainstream K-dramas such as School 2015, Shadow Beauty, My Little Baby Jaya, etc. that brings school violence in front of the public. K-dramas like My ID is Gangnam Beauty and True Beauty also represent the discrimination a student suffers over matters of looks, money, and social status.
However, all these attempts of providing a closer look at the suffering of victims are only effective when the audience applies the same sympathy to real students. Real students whose dramas don’t end within 16 episodes and leave scars for a lifetime.
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