Parents In South Korea Are Hiring Intimidating “Uncles” To Stop School Bullying
Sometimes schools deal with bullying cases well and other times…not so much. While each school has a different way of handling bullies, some parents have begun to take matters into their own hands and are seeking out a new service in South Korea that puts bullies in their place.
These new services allow parents to hire an intimidating man in their 30s or 40s to pretend to be the uncle of the bullied student.
The men are generally big and muscley, think Kim Jong Kook or Ma Dong Seok, and may have large tattoos to make them look particularly tough.
Multiple companies specialize in these offerings and offer different packages to ensure that the bullied student is safe and that the bullies will stay away from the child in the future.
One package offered by a company in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul offers the “Uncle Package” where one of their for-hire uncles will walk the student to and from school. This service comes complete with a stern warning to the bullies.
Another company offers what they call the “Evidence Package” which is exactly what it sounds like. The uncles hired in this case film the bullies in action and then show it to the school administrators while demanding action. In this deal, the uncle will threaten to release the video to the school board if steps aren’t taken against the bullies.
And still another company likes to promote their “Chaperone Package.” In this deal, the uncle pays a visit to the bully’s parents at work. Part of this package includes the uncle protesting in front of the office building and shouting that a parent of a bully works inside.
While it may seem a little over the top at first, these uncle services might be exactly what the doctor ordered. According to a 2013 survey by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, nearly 1 in 10 students at Korean primary and secondary schools have suffered from different forms of violence at the hands of their peers.
And according to the 5.5 million elementary, middle, and high school students polled in 2012, 10% of students reported that they were bullied at least once that year.
The demand for these services is definitely there, but unfortunately, it comes at a price. Prices at the companies offering the different packages range from about $450 to $1,790 per day.
Despite the steep price tag, the service has earned overwhelming support from the public, while raising some concerns from those in the education field. Altogether though, these services are looked upon very favorably.
“Private sanction is just another form of violence. School violence needs to be resolved by improving the system.”
— Kim Yoon Tae, Korea University Professor