On July 18, 2023, at Seoul Seoi Elementary School, a second-year new teacher was found dead in the preparation room, sending a chill through the school community. The incident was triggered by a case of school violence that occurred within the teacher’s class, leading to incessant phone calls, unreasonable demands, and verbal abuse from both the offending and victimized students’ parents. Additionally, the pressure from higher-ups in the school to maintain silence on the matter added to the burden. Many teacher organizations, who have faced similar experiences, mourned the teacher’s tragic death and have been demanding the restoration of teachers’ authority.
Strangely, the public opinion seems to have misdirected the core of this incident, attributing it to the so-called “Golden Solution” by Dr. Oh Eun-young. According to pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Seo Cheon-seok of Seoul National University, the gentle solutions like “Understanding the Heart”, which Dr. Oh Eun-young has been presenting on entertainment programs for troubled children, have created an illusion that even severe issues can be resolved through a few counseling sessions and have ultimately harmed the disciplines of multiple parents. Such an argument has sparked growing criticism against her, and major broadcasting companies like JTBC have also reported on these claims.
This argument seems to be nothing more than an attempt by those envious of Dr. Oh Eun-young to tarnish her reputation using this incident as an opportunity. The real issue at the heart of this controversy lies in the excessive arrogance of some parents, the complicity of the higher-ups who turned a blind eye, and the absence of institutional mechanisms that could have prevented this tragic death from happening in the first place. What responsibility does Dr. Oh Eun-young, who has been consistently advocating for understanding children’s emotions while also teaching them social norms, truly bear? The arrows of criticism ought to be unequivocally directed towards those parents whose capricious demands have wrought devastation upon one individual’s life, as it is they who have misconstrued Dr. Oh Eun-young’s consistent message of advocating the understanding of children’s minds and the imperative of instilling clear educational principles regarding social norms. Therefore, the focus of public opinion should be on how to protect teachers’ authority through institutional means, to ensure that similar incidents do not recur. It is essential to put an end to the current trend of unfounded criticism that resembles a witch-hunt and instead move towards a more rational and compassionate approach.
Writer of NLCS Hub