A former student at the Seoul Institute of the Arts has spoken out about sexual harassment and bullying at the prestigious art and drama university.
The fine arts student, Go Ryun Hee, revealed that due to the orientation culture at the university, which has a strict status difference juniors and seniors, many students were sexually harassed, bullied, and even raped.
She said that as a part of games and outings, the juniors were frequently forced to drink and do embarrassing, sexual things even though they didn’t want to. All because of the understanding that the juniors had to do what the seniors said. One time she was forced to place the top of a broken alcohol bottle close to her crotch area and act as if it was a penis.
When asked why they ordered the juniors to do it, the seniors reportedly replied “because it’s funny” and “its fun”.
She also claimed that a male senior once dragged a girl into a dark, secluded area of the park. They were gone for a long time, but when they returned, the girl was crying and the male senior was yelling in his drunken stupor.
When she questioned what had happened, the male senior shouted, “You were late, weren’t you? If you were late, you should be punished, right?” and grabbed her. At first no one around her helped, but eventually, there was a skirmish when another male student tried to help her. She was thrown to the ground, crying. However, the whole thing was passed off as a joke when a different senior yelled “surprise!” and took a video of her crying on the floor.
The student believes the university’s party and drinking culture has a lot to be blamed for the sexual assaults. She advocated having the orientation culture changed so that sexual harassment and bullying can never happen again.
“Getting over the damage left over by these events was something I had to do myself. I realized I don’t have to be the weak victim anymore. This cry is not for me, but for my year-mates, my friends, and the current juniors in school. I don’t want my juniors to go through this again.”
— Go Ryun Hee
Go Ryun Hee isn’t the only student to step forward. Anonymous students revealed in an in-depth interview that the school has faced multiple sexual harassment cases for years. According to one of the students, the school’s policy on the sexual harassment reports was to sweep it under the rug.
“Whenever a sexual harassment problem arose, the school kept everything quiet and purposefully tried to cover it up. They didn’t take any measures to fix the issue. The school only gave more power to the professors.”
— Anonymous student
The student shared that a particular professor continued to ask her out, going as far as making crude, sexual jokes when they went out for drinks as a group. She tried to avoid him at all costs, but he then threatened her by saying, “It won’t be good for you to avoid me like this.”
With students finally gaining the courage to speak out against their assaulters, many professors have been under investigation against the issues. A theater actor named Han Myung Gu, who was a professor at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, has decided to resign after apologizing for the multiple sexual harassment cases set against him.
“I deeply, deeply apologize to the students that I have harmed with irreversible scars. I harmed them greatly because I didn’t have the self-control to stop my wrongful behaviors. I am repenting with everything I have over my wrongdoings.”
— Han Myung Gu
Police and the press are said to be roaming throughout the campus for their investigations on more possible sexual harassment cases.