Recently I have watched a South Korean Film called ‘Silenced’. ‘Silenced’ is known for changing a South Korean law. This South Korean film is adapted from the real incident of a principle from a school for deafmutes who sexuality abused the students there with brutality. The most remarkable thing is that after the film was released, because of its far-reaching impact, millions of netizens signed and protested and the case was reiterated, contributed to the amendment of the "Dogani Law. I have never watched this film before because of the sadness behind it until recently. Even after a few days of watching this film I am still very disturbed and heart shattered by this film. The plot of the film was that an art teacher named Kang Inho was employed by a school for deafmutes only later uncovered that the children here are sexually assaulted and treated with violence by the principle and the teachers here. In order to send these vicious men to court, he was helped by human rights activist Seo Yoo-jin to collect evidence of the incidents and to protect the children. However because of how politically powerful the principle was, the principal who sexually assaulted the children and the other two teachers were only sentenced to 6 months in prison and with a one-year suspension(Silenced Wikipedia).
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This movie was inspired by Gong Ji-Young’s Novel ‘The Crucible’ which the novel was based on a true story. As an audience of the film I felt in the movie there were still much hope left. The real story however was much more desperate and hopeless. In the film, the children who were sexually assaulted were two girls and two boys. As the story develops the younger one of the two boys eventually committed suicide from lying on the railway. In the film only three were committing the crimes. The people who sexually abused the 4 children were the principle, deputy principle and one teacher. On the other hand in the real incident, a total of more than 10 people were participated in the violence. Since 2000, they have sexually assaulted more than 30 deaf and mute children. These children ages from 7 to 20 which is painfully unbelievable(Siti 2018). In the film, when Kang Inho and Seo Yoojin asked for an investigation towards the school and the incident. Both department of Education and the welfare agency were reluctant on handling the situation and no one was willing to take over the case. The police station was also ignoring the whole incidents. How was that even possible everyone was lacking in humanity? However the real situation was far beyond desperate than this. A South Korean netizen once left a comment asking “is our country still a society under the rules of law?” The real situation was that a male lawyer learned about this case from his friend who was a teacher at the Gwangju Inhwa School for deaf and mute children. The two were very determined to seek justice for the children of the school. The lawyer’s friend at the time was collecting data and evidence for the incidents but in between that he was murdered. Not only this, for the next 7 years, the lawyer worked very hard for the truth of this case. Several lawyers full of justice have been assassinated too when investigating this incident, and in the end of lawyer had to leave the law firm. In the end the lawyer left the law firm unwillingly with three of the deaf and mute children he rescued. For this case during 7 whole years the lawyer went to appeal sentences many times nonetheless failed (Patricia 2020). Later on the lawyer met a doctor who was extremely shocked by the situation and decided to help him in seeking justice. Though they have found many evidences the principle was way too powerful politically and has not been punished. Later the doctor took away his own life because of all the pressures.
After reading this novel an actor named Kong Yoo was very upset about this situation. Kong Yoo then requested the filming of this novel and in the following years he had invested and made many plans for it and finally the film was able to start shooting. However even though South Korea is a country with an independent censorship system for movies it was still imaginable that shooting such a controversial film aimed at schools, education departments, court systems and many other official systems were facing many hinders. The last part of the film with the anti-water gun was supposed to be shot in Gwangju but the local government not only did not support them but also drove them away in the end they had to film this scene in another city. Fortunately, the movie was released and received many very enthusiastic responses. After the movie was released millions of netizens signed petitions and requested the government to reinvestigate the matter. Under pressure from all parties the police department of Gwangju had to start the investigation again only did it because the people asked to. The revolting principle of the school later passed away with illness and escaping the punishment of law and justice (Muskan 2020). With the many protest, online complains, and various public opinion pressures the South Korean official governments finally paid attention to it. 37 days after the movie was released, the Korean Congress passed the "Sexual Assault Prevention Amendment", also known as the "Dogani Law", and a series of laws including amendments to the Social Welfare Business Law ensure that the operation of social welfare institutions is open and transparent. A month later, this malicious school was finally closed. However, it has been 9 years since the real incident happened. 9 years ago 12 children were sexually abused however those villains were not punished. After the court during the 9 years another 18 children were molested and abused. Four years have passed and all the perpetrators in the case have not yet been punished by law （Kim Rahn）.Although the authorities have amended the law with ‘Dogani Law’, the harm that those villains left for the 30 children may poison their minds and will not be wiped out easily for the rest of their lives.
This essay was written in tribute for all the people who has helped on this incident. The teacher who was assassinated, the doctor who committed suicide, the lawyer, the author of this novel and Kong Yoo who insisted on shooting this film despite all kinds of pressure. Because of their individual persistence and sacrifice this matter was able to be revealed from the deep and allowing the children to escape from the hell hole. Alongside the power of millions of Koreans netizens after the release of the film, the relevant departments were finally amending all the legal provisions and gave the children justice. With only thoughts of these people, I cannot help but form tears in my eyes. Maybe even in the darkest deepest caves there will always be a trace of light. The light may not be that visible, but it will always strike hard in the dark. That one single ray of light is the humanity left within us. What impressed me the most was that South Korea was able to create such films like ‘Silenced’ and publish those novels with very sensitive topics. South Korea culture has a relatively relaxed environment and this has led to the endless emergence of such excellent realistic film themes in South Korea in the recent years.
‘Silenced’ is a film that ultimately promoted a country’s legislation and changed South Korea’s law in many aspects, and this kind of social influence is extremely rare. To be blunt when watching a film the real depressing parts was not how the villains was treating the children but was the “based on true events of real life story” at the beginning of the film. I was furious just after watching the film but then I fell into my deep thoughts. I always think that a good movie does not lie in with what the audience gains, but in what kind of thinking it makes the audience fall into. This South Korea film is a movie about human rights, exposing the injustice of the society, and at the same time it had shown us the hardships of ordinary people, disadvantaged groups and many difficulties faced by the handicapped people. This thought brings me a famous quote from the film: "The reason why we are fighting the world so hard is not to change it, but to not let it change us.” It is very important to always keeping our original intention, and not letting the ‘melting pot’ of this world change us, that is the most meaningful.
Guest Writer. July 2020 “Film Review Silence: How An Unjust System Failed The Survivors of Sexual & Physical Abuse”
Kim Rahn. “National Assembly Passes ‘Dogani Law’”
Patricia Hului. January 2020. “What To Know About The Real Story Behind Korean Movie Silenced”
Siti Norlela. September 2018. “Silenced: The Truth Behind It And A Review”
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