The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Colleges to have stricter record checks on school bullying

By Moon Ki Hoon

Published : Aug. 31, 2023 - 17:51

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In light of mounting concerns over school bullying, students with disciplinary records for bullying will face stricter scrutiny during the college admissions process in South Korea.

Starting in 2026, colleges will be required to consider applicants' school bullying records during admissions, the Korea Council for University Education, the country’s leading body for college admissions, announced on Wednesday.

Under the new policy, every applicant will undergo mandatory checks of bullying records regardless of their college admission track. Colleges will now have the authority to either deduct points based on the severity of the offense or disqualify offenders outright. In the past, only students on the holistic review track that prioritizes report cards and extracurriculars had their disciplinary record assessed, meaning that offenders could slip through the cracks by simply applying through other tracks.

Addressing another widespread concern, the council also issued a guideline directing schools to promptly document bullying offenses. The move aims to counter a common tactic where parents of alleged offenders initiate lawsuits to stall disciplinary actions until after the application process is over.

In South Korea, disciplinary measures for bullying offenses are categorized into nine levels, from the least severe requiring a written apology to the most severe leading to immediate expulsion. Punishments from the sixth level -- probation -- onwards are deemed serious and are documented on the student's report card for up to four years after graduation.

Conversations around school bullying took center stage earlier this year when the newly-appointed National Investigation chief, Chung Sun-sin, resigned following reports that his son received only a minimal deduction in his application to Seoul National University -- the nation's top school -- after having faced disciplinary action for bullying. The incident, combined with the rising acclaim of the Netflix drama "The Glory," which explores a bullying victim’s quest for revenge, has sparked nationwide calls for stricter punishment against bullies.