Monday, February 21, 2011

Reports on the suicide of a foreign teacher in Busan

As has been discussed online here and here, on Sunday morning Yonhap published the following report:
Foreign Hagwon Teacher Commits Suicide by Jumping Naked from the Waist Down

At 6pm on February 19th a security guard at an apartment in Millak-dong, Suyeong-gu, Busan informed police that he had discovered the body of American English hagwon teacher K (31), who had jumped from the 14th floor.

K removed his pants (and was naked from the waist down) and threw himself out a window of the apartment building, having covered his face with his shirt/top before jumping.

Police revealed that K had not been to work since receiving his monthly salary on the 15th, after having been handed over to someone connected with the hagwon the day before because he had been drinking and causing a scene at Gimhae Airport.

As there were empty soju bottles in his apartment and the place where he jumped, police are investigating the exact details and whether he might have waited until the soju was finished to jump.
There are 18 Korean-language articles about this online, and all but two mention in the title the fact that he was naked from the waist down, some adding words like 'shocking' or 'why?' to the title. Of the two that didn't mention that detail, one (by Newsis) was titled "Drunk Foreign English Teacher in his 30s Jumps from Apartment Building." Classy. Not to be outdone by Newsis, however, was the Seoul Sinmun, which published two reports. One in its Society section, and the other... well, here's the Naver search result:

외국인 학원강사, 하의 벗고 투신자살
서울신문 연예 2011.02.20 (일) 오후 1:42

Yes indeed... the entertainment section.


TG said...

If it was a Korean teacher in Europe, I'm sure our media would also mention the fact, that he was naked.

matt said...

I'm sure it would be mentioned in the article, but outside of the tabloid press would it be mentioned in the headline? I really don't know.

I'm not doing anything exhaustive, but a quick search at Naver for "술취한 투신(drunk leap to death) turns up articles related to suicide with those terms in the headline from the 1990s, but nothing from the past decade. Using the terms in the headline referring to clothes removed from waist down or waist up and death leap turn up no other headlines. Naked and death leap turn up less than five articles. As rare as such things (jumping naked, I mean) might be, with all the suicides that occur every year, I have a hard time believing that you don't have a few every decade. And I imagine more than a few suicides occur while drunk. And still, only a handful of headlines.

brent said...

I hope some people that knew him write about the situation and what else led up to this.

Dominique said...

I'm disturbed about the fact that one newspaper put that in the entertainment section...yeah, half naked foreigner comitting suicide is such a fun story...(?) T_T

JP Rod said...

People commit suicide, it happens to Koreans and foreigners alike. But it's a foreigner so I guess it's a HUGE deal.

With the other guy laying down on the train tracks: 22642 E2 visas for 2 suicide, that is 8.83 suicide per 100,000 E2 visa holder.

According to wikipedia (, Koreans suicide at the rate of 31.0 per 100,000.

Woah, double standards all the way. What does it mean?