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6 years after rapes, gov't forces closure

2011/10/04 | 558 views |  | Permalink | Source

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In the aftermath of the box-office hit "The Crucible", depicting the true tale of sexual abuse in a school for hearing-impaired students, the Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education determined Monday that it would force the Inhwa School to shut down.

Gwangju officials convened an emergency meeting to discuss measures against the school for disabled students and will require all 22 students to be transferred to another establishment soon.

It is the first time that a local government has revoked the accreditation of a social welfare foundation.

"The foundation of the Inhwa School fatally lacks social morals, neglecting the issue for years until now, and we concluded that the foundation can't maintain its own initial purpose", Song Gwi-geun, vice mayor of Gwangju, said at a press conference yesterday.

The film, titled "The Crucible" in English and based on a true story recounted in Gong Ji-young's bestselling book, focused public attention on six Inhwa School officials and teachers who received minimal - in some cases no - legal repercussions for the serial rapes of students aged 7 to 20 from 2000 to 2005.

Two were put on probation, two received punishments of one and two years in prison, and the remaining two were not punished at all because the statute of limitations had been reached. School administrators reinstated one of the teachers in January 2008.

Kang Un-tae, mayor of Gwangju, told officials at the city government yesterday that the most important thing was to protect disabled people living at the school.

"The movie is a shameful portrait of our society and a painful lesson that we shouldn't learn again", Kang said. "The fact that Gwangju, a city of human rights, had this kind of incident shocked me".

Song said he expects the Inhwa School to file a lawsuit in response to the city government's demands.

By Kim Hee-jin

Source : koreajoongangdaily.jo...

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