Lee: Teachers, graduates must resolve hazing issue

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Lee: Teachers, graduates must resolve hazing issue

In response to recent ugly graduation hazing involving a middle school in Goyang, Gyeonggi, President Lee Myung-bak wants graduates and teachers to work together to resolve the issue, rather than involve the police, Blue House spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said yesterday. In a senior presidential secretary meeting at the Blue House, Lee asserted that such graduation rituals have become a serious societal concern, Kim said.

Even the Education Ministry has stepped in to try to sort things out. The ministry organized an emergency meeting at the Appeal Commission for Teachers in central Seoul by summoning school commissioners from education offices nationwide.

The ministry’s officials and commissioners discussed measures to prevent further hazing incidents, and agreed to investigate the actual conditions of graduation rituals at middle and high schools across the country. In addition, they agreed to severely punish schools and students found to be involved in hazing.

Meanwhile, a high school dropout surnamed Kim, 17, of Goyang, confirmed some of the worst rumors about hazing on Tuesday. The Joong-Ang Ilbo interviewed Kim near the Ilsan Police Precinct, where a probe is now being conducted.

Kim graduated in February last year from a middle school near the school where the recent hazing took place. He said that last year he was on the receiving end of a graduation ritual organized by older students, and this year he switched roles.

Kim said he was a bully, and, “It was a custom that senior bullies haze younger kids during graduation. The practice began about four years ago, so middle-school third graders expect to be stripped.”

A week before last Thursday’s graduation, Kim and five other high schoolers text-messaged three middle-school students where and when to meet them for the hazing, Kim said.

The older students purchased grocery items, including flour, vinegar and syrup, two days before graduation. At around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, the high schoolers met the younger students at a park near the school, said Kim. He and the other seniors removed their clothes and threw the groceries at them. Then the seniors ordered the three to line up naked and walk the streets for about 30 minutes.

“We originally planned to have those three to sing the national anthem and the school song in front of many people, but we gave up that plan,” Kim said.

By Song Ji-hye, Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]

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