Gwangju Inhwa School
By Kim Rahn
Gwangju City will cancel the school operation license for a welfare foundation where school staff members sexually assaulted and harassed their deaf students.
The city government said Tuesday that a 15-member committee, comprised of officials from the city, its educational office, ward office in charge of the social welfare foundation named Wuseok, and civic group members, decided on the license annulment at an emergency meeting Monday.
The revocation comes amid growing public backlash after the film “The Crucible,” titled “Dogani” in Korean, based on the true story of sexual assaults at the Gwangju Inhwa School shed new light on the case.
Teachers at the special school for the deaf raped or sexually harassed the students between 2000 and 2005, but the offenders were penalized lightly and some of them are still working at the school.
“We’ll cancel the school’s license for education on the disabled, leading to its closure. We’ll also close Inhwawon, a dormitory operated by the foundation, and other training facilities there,” a city official said.
Currently, 22 students are attending the school, 57 stay at the dorm, and 55 receive training there. The educational office plans to have the students transferred to other schools.
Regarding the case, President Lee Myung-bak, who watched the movie Monday, said not only improvement in the legal system but also greater social awareness is needed to prevent similar cases from occurring.
“Lee said we need to pay more attention and care for the minorities in society,” presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha said.
National Police Agency Commissioner General Cho Hyun-oh also watched the film with other senior police officials and said he was shocked. Last week, police formed a special probe team for possible uncovered irregularities surrounding the school, virtually re-investigating it.
“I was shocked. We, police, should reflect on whether we have really worked on behalf of the weak and minorities. The special team should verify every allegation thoroughly,” Cho was quoted as saying by senior officials.