Saturday, September 12, 2009

Whistleblowing in Korea "The Crucible"

Koreans according to what you read are rather lenient, tolerant, at the way they look at sexual problems in society. In recent years there are more reports of sexual harassment, assault and sexual violence issues in Korean society. The macho culture that we have and the lack of information is partially the cause for the so called apathy of the past; this is changing. We do have the process of concientization (consciousness raising) going on: laws have been changed, penalties are getting stiffer and the issues are being publicized.

One of the more popular novelist Gong Ji-young (Mary) has written a novel which is online. I do not know how serious her Catholicism is but she has been strong in working to do away with the death penalty and is interested in human rights issues. Her recent novel The Crucible is a novel that deals with a factual case in Gwangju Inhwa School for the deaf and dumb students. The education workers and the principle sexually abused the disabled students in 2005. This is the incident in which she uses as background for her novel. Both Catholic papers had a short article on her recent book.

The protagonist of the novel is a teacher who was hired to work at the school and makes a discovery that all was not right. The new teacher learns rather quickly that the students in his class have been sexually abused by the principle and other co-workers in the administration. The principle was the son of the founder and was considered a devout Christian and had the respect of the community.

We have the story here of a whistle blower who suffers and becomes a victim for trying to do what is right. The whistle blower had made his own sexual mistakes in the past which were used against him. The community stands by the principle and the teachers. The police are taken in by the community and even the parents of the victims agree to cover over what happened for the money they received.

The three are accused and sentenced to probation and are set free to return to the school. In real life they were given jail sentences.

Whistleblowing is where an insider discloses wrongdoing within an organization, calling for rectification. They have a difficult time of it in most countries. You are making something known that is going to be traumatic to many and bring about a change which is difficult for most. The protagonist in The Crucible, because of his own mistakes in the past, suffered a great deal and decided at the end to leave it all. This seems to be the lot of the whistle blower. He has to put up with retaliations from those he was living with and those he has worked with and his family can't helped but be involved. This is very difficult and in many cases the truth does not win out at least initially.

In Korea we have laws that help to protect the whistileblower. He can be monetarily rewarded for his disclosures but it is still a difficult road to take. One has to think well and long for he often will be facing a strong legal system that is often in the hands of those with the financial means. The results of the conflict often take years to conclude and not always in the whistlerblower's favor. However it is a great service to society and a very powerful way of conscientizing society.

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