Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Something More than Revenge Required

Recently we heard in the news of a woman, a master sergeant in the military, who after suffering sexual harassment without  getting any satisfaction from her appeals for justice died by her own hand no longer able to endure the tendency to cover up the problem.  A professor at a Catholic University brings the issue of ineffective probes and delayed justice to the readers in recent TV dramas.

Around the 2010s, a large number of Korean television dramas began to appear with crime and detection as the main subject. After establishing the reality of the crime and the investigations, the dramas show a distrust for the public justice and seek to make things right with private retribution and revenge.
In a drama  that  recently ended, one character lost his parents to a serial killer, and created a foundation to support victims of crimes. He secretly acts on behalf of the victim by running a  taxi company with colleagues with similar pain.  The drama have used real-life cases that have greatly resonated with Korean society, asking bitterly about the broken justice.

The more vicious the perpetrator's behavior, and the less legal punishment for the behavior, the more welcomed the private revenge represented by the taxi company will inevitably be. But before revenge that is portrayed by the drama, we need to reflect on the absurdities and irregularities of the society we have created.

One of the first passengers of the taxi company, Marie, was intellectually disabled, and had to leave the nursery without sufficient preparation under the regulations to stand on her own feet when she reached the age of 18. Although she was introduced to employment, she was eventually imprisoned in a factory disguised as a social enterprise and suffered terrible exploitation, verbal abuse and assault. Local police were taking bribes and taking part in the crime, aiding and abetting the situation. The follow-up care for nursery school outcasts was also inadequate and oversight of the overall situation was also neglected. And few in the neighborhood  took an interest in Marie.
When the social system that is supposed to protect the weak does not work properly, the weak are forced into a serious crisis. The only entity in the drama that responded to the desperate requests for help from the victims, including Marie, was the taxi company. And when the victims' despair finally turns into  revenge  we can vicariously satisfy our desire for justice with the accompanying pleasure. But more important than revenge is reflection and improvement on the structural contradictions in society that produced such absurdities.

Also, important questions remain even after the revenge. If thorough retribution is made against the individual perpetrator, is the  victim's life completely released from pain? How much time has to pass before the victim can return to a peaceful daily life? 
What is worse if the perpetrator is not properly condemned socially and does not reflect on his life or ask for forgiveness, the victim's  life may be imprisoned in anger forever. 
It may be difficult to discuss forgiveness for the victim standing in the middle of pain, but the clear fact is that the victim's wounds will not heal at once just because the perpetrator was punished. The journey of forgiveness and healing is bound to be extremely difficult. How do we accompany these victims during their suffering more than revenge we need to think deeply on the issue and act.

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