Apology cleans up school bathroom controversy

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Apology cleans up school bathroom controversy

The Kyung Hee University student who was bombarded with Internet criticism for insulting one of the school’s cleaning women on May 13 has met the lady and apologized, according to a post by the cleaner’s daughter on local Web portal Nate.

“The student gave a wholehearted apology on Thursday night and my mom accepted it,” the posting read. “What my mother sought from her was an apology, and now that we have one, we want to conclude this incident.”

The matter started as a private spat when the student swore at the cleaning woman and demanded she throw away a paper milk carton in a public toilet. When the argument escalated, the cleaning woman followed the student to another room of the college, where the girl again cursed at her, told her to do her job, and threatened to beat her if she didn’t go away.

It was the Net that made the case so public. When the cleaning woman’s daughter posted a complaint about the incident, it grabbed the attention of more than half a million viewers. They hotly debated the authenticity of the story until Monday, when an audio file of the second altercation was anonymously uploaded onto the Web. At that point, it became a witch hunt.

Kyung Hee University officials launched an investigation and they identified the student on Thursday. The same day, the school’s student council hung a poster in front of the Cheong Wun Gwan building, where the quarrel broke out. Before the girl made her own apology, the student leadership said her parents had met the cleaning woman and apologized for their daughter’s behavior.

“We’re aware that the student truly regrets her wrongdoings. She hasn’t come to school because she’s terrified and agonized [at the public reaction],” the poster read. “The university will soon decide disciplinary measures against her.”

The cleaning woman’s daughter said she never imagined that the incident would become so big.

“I’m asking the public to move on,” she wrote in her latest posting. “The situation is hard for us to take, and I’m sure my mom’s wounded heart will be healed, though it will take some time.”

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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