Apparently I was so much wronger than I suspected yesterday that I might be. From Metropolitician:
Then there’s the interesting fact that the record holder for the worst shooting in world history, Woo Bom-gon (우범근), is also Korean, this time a Korean national who lived in Korea. That’s not in the least bit interesting? From about the only other site on the Internet I could find on this subject (there is exactly one I could find through Korean search engines, and that’s a pretty weird site):
South Korean spree killer. Has argument with girlfriend. Being a police officer, Woo Bum-Kon robs the police armory and goes on a drunken 8 hour shooting spree through three villages, leaving 57 dead and 35 wounded before he suicides with two grenades in Uiryong. The Korean interior minister resigns. (28 Apr 1982.)
I’ve been thinking about something like this happening for years now, in a Korean context; I’ve actually wondered when and if something like this might happen, and how this may play out. I come at this from someone who lives and works in South Korea who works with kids in high schools, college, and alternative schools daily.
His post is long, but if you’re at all interested, read it. Man knows his shit.
I almost didn’t post that first thing yesterday, which has gotten more reaction than the drivel I usually stick to. I posted it even though the voice in the back of my head said “It’s not that simple, and you know it,” because however inaccurate it turned out to be in fact, when I read that story, I really did think ‘What is wrong with us?’ Maybe it was my “national guilt.”
That post and this incident is forcing me to look at the level on which I’ve gotten to know Korean society. Which is to say that unless Jeju Island is a paradise free from the ills of mainland Korean society, I’ve been sheltered. When I don’t read Metropolitician, I forget about the Korea he experiences and writes critically about. I don’t watch Korean news because I can’t understand it and English papers are not available on Jeju. I spend all my internet news time reading US or world news. It’s appalling, really, how little I know.
But I hate the idea of this being the world that my students are growing up into, a society in which suicide is the leading cause of death for people in their 20’s and 30’s. A society of endemic domestic violence against women. I’m not really qualified to say this, but the more I read, the more it sounds like Confucianism is running up against globalization and the young people are caught in the middle with destructive consequences. I hate the idea of what might happen to my girls as they become adults in that world.
Though I’m sure I would feel exactly the same way no matter where I was teaching, or what world I saw my students going into.