Koreans are “aghast” at the footage of brutal university hazing shown on the news last week, said Kim Sang-beom. “It was a scene of merciless assault to faces and bodies using hands and feet.” A graduate of Yong In University was shown brutally beating an underclassman, and that underclassman was then shown beating another, “with blows fierce enough to snap a board.”
Such shocking hazing has been reported again and again at our universities, and authorities promise in vain to stamp it out. Three years ago, for example, one poor incoming student at Yong In was found beaten to death even before his matriculation ceremony. At the time, everyone agreed to stop the “beatings and violence in the name of tradition”—yet here we are again.
“Stopgap measures” have obviously failed. It will take interventions by both students and professors to change the repressive culture at schools where hazing is entrenched. Strong leadership from campus administrators should be accompanied by extensive student counseling. If we take the problem seriously, we can replace the tradition of hazing with a new tradition of “welcoming ceremonies in the true sense, with older and younger students sharing warm and genuine feeling.”