In South Korea, a widespread phenomenon known as “Hakpok #MeToo” has emerged, whereby individuals who experienced bullying in the past publicly expose and condemn their former tormentors, even years or decades later. The term “hakpok” refers to school violence in Korean.
Netflix’s The Glory, which follows a woman’s meticulously planned revenge scheme after suffering years of brutal abuse from high school bullies, helped amplify South Korea’s national discussion about bullying.
In an ironic sign of how pervasive the issue is, after the show became a hit, the director Ahn Gil-ho was himself accused of teenage bullying and forced to apologize.
Even South Korea’s presidential office was recently forced to withdraw a top police appointment after it emerged the candidate’s son had bullied classmates, sparking public backlash.
School violence is endemic in South Korean schools, Noh Yoon-ho, a Seoul-based attorney who specializes in bullying cases told AFP, adding it is a “collective trauma” the country needs to process.
“Any South Korean who has gone to school has been a victim or witnessed other students being bullied and not helped – we all have memories of this,” Noh said.
The “Hakpok #MeToo” movement has helped many victims to shed the shame of their experience, and realize they were not bullied “because they were lacking something”, she added.
But the problem is that there is still no system in place at school level where victims can “approach without hesitation for an immediate and adequate response when incidents occur”, Jihoon Kim, a criminology professor who has researched bullying in South Korea, told AFP. AFP