[Letters] Korea’s denial of mental illness

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[Letters] Korea’s denial of mental illness

I am an Australian resident of Japan. As a wife and mother of five Korean citizens I have great affection for Korea. I admire the sincerity and kindness of Koreans and I constantly look forward to my next trip to Seoul.

Korea is the home of my family’s honored ancestors. If it was not for this special connection I would beyond doubt never visit Korea again.

Regrettably on my last trip to Seoul I was assaulted at a major pedestrian crossing at midday. I was waiting alone to cross at the traffic lights when I heard a scream and felt pain over the top of my head. To my terrible dismay I realized the scream was mine and I had been beaten on the head. I struggled to look around to see a well-dressed young man equipped with a snazzy iPod looking back at me with strange-looking eyes. He seemed to be enjoying my pain and confusion. I dared not say a thing in fear he would hit me again.

While I regained my composure and continued to hope it was just a bad dream I heard more screams. The assailant had then moved on and hit two more women over the head before making a hurried departure. We were too stunned to move or say anything.

My daughter is a graduate student at a prestigious Korean university. She, too, has had two similar assaults in the 18 months she has lived in Seoul.

Obviously the assailants suffer from mental disease. Are the families of these aggressors in denial regarding the illness their loved ones suffer from and leaving them to roam the streets of Seoul so they can attack anyone they wish?

I hesitate to be judgmental. However, if thugs can wander around Seoul and randomly hit innocent women then I must publicly affirm that Korea is behind in the treatment of mental illnesses.

I will continue to travel to Seoul because my affinity for Korea is more than skin deep. Then again, if I was a tourist visiting Seoul for the first time I would never go again.

Susan Menadue-Chun, A Korean lover
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