Punishment – South Korea

Jae Ha Chang – Korean Punishment

Jae Ha has only lived in this country for the last eight years. Before that, he was a resident of South Korea, where childhood disobedience and mischievous play is a commonality. Similar to how it is in the United States. However, punishment is much more brutal for children. While spankings are not uncommon in American culture, children do not normally have to be beaten for the message to sink in that they did something wrong and should not do it again. Most of the time spankings are no big deal for American children and they continue to be mischievous.  In South Korea, this is not the case. South Korean parents beat their children more vigorously when their children misbehave. Some might say this method of severely beating their children is a more efficient way of punishing their children. Jae Ha certainly thought so.

Jae Ha has a few stories from his childhood that he will never forget about the punishments that he received from his parents. When he has twelve and still living in South Korea, he was beaten so bad by his father that he had to go to the hospital. One day, Jae and his family were watching television late at night. Everything was fine until Jae decided to be a smart aleck and say something rude and nasty to his mother. (He does not remember what he said, but he did say it was pretty crude and mean). His mother yelled at him, but did not take too much offense. However, his father was not so keen on letting him continue the night without punishment. He picked up a baseball bat, shoved his mother aside, and proceeded to take a full swing at Jae Ha’s side. Aside from the enormous bruise he received, Jae had to go to the hospital to get treatment for the wound. While this would seem unacceptable in American culture, Jae went back home the next day to normal family life. Jae and his father both acted like nothing happened because in South Korean culture. It’s not a big deal. To this day, Jae has never said anything that nasty to this mother again. The message must have stuck the punishment right on target.

Another story where Jae was beaten to learn a lesson was four years later when he was sixteen and living in America. Jae had just received his driver’s license a week before and he was driving home from school. He proceeded to get in a car accident that totaled his car. Take into mind this was only a week after he received his license. His mother came to the scene and made sure he was okay and took him to the hospital to make sure he was okay. After a week or so of rehabilitation, Jae’s mom asked him if he was feeling better. Jae’s responded with a yes, and then was beat by his mother. She took a plastic stick-like object and wacked him with it numerous times. She grounded him for four months and took away his driving privileges for six months on top of the beating. Once again, Jae was distraught by the punishment but never thought it out of the ordinary. It was completely normal to him and because of it, he was much more careful when driving.

Jae said that this type of punishment was common for most of the other Korean families he knew while living in South Korea. He also mentioned that even while living in America, these same beating punishments took place among other families. While it seems unethical and almost cruel to a person who grows up in American society, this act of beating your children as punishment is quite common among a vast number of South Korean families. Korean’s have a different sense of what is acceptable and what is unethical. Korean’s are raised from a culture that spent much of ancestry studying martial arts. From experience, martial arts teach self-defense and discipline. This discipline training makes a person stronger both physically and mentally. Because of this fact, I believe this is the reason why harsher punishments are considered tolerable in a culture where discipline is taken more seriously.