Following a major demonstration on September 4, more school teachers in South Korea rallied on Saturday in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, calling for legal protections against bullying from overbearing parents.
Triggered by the suicide a 23-year-old primary school teacher, who was allegedly under pressure from abusive parents, school teachers and educators have been protesting and going on strikes in various cities across South Korea. Protestors allege that the law in its current form makes it easy for parents to accuse teachers of mistreating their child, which may cause a teacher to immediately lose their job. According to Korean authorities, around 20 public school teachers have committed suicide over the past 5 years.
The issue has caught the attention of South Korean lawmakers. On September 8, the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea established a joint “Task Force” to enhance teachers’ mental health and wellbeing, providing for for mental health assessments, emotional support and psychological treatment. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education announced on Friday that the “Four Laws on Protecting Teacher Rights” had been passed at the general meeting of the National Assembly Education Committee. Next, the bills will go to the legislation and judiciary committee, and then get voted at the plenary session of the National Assembly.
Minister of Health and Welfare Jo Gyu-hong commented that he was “deeply saddened by the unfortunate choices made by teachers in recent times,” and that to prevent such incidents from happening, “we will consider additional measures, taking into account foreign examples, in order to support the mental health of teachers in the government’s upcoming mental health innovation plan.”