INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR GENDER-EDU FREEDOM REINSTATE KOREAN TEACHER MR. BAELEE SANGHUN

INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR GENDER-EDU FREEDOM REINSTATE KOREAN TEACHER MR. BAELEE SANGHUN

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Dear friends and colleagues,

This is an international petition in support of Mr. BaeLee Sang-hun, a fully qualified Middle School Ethics teacher in South Korea and author of an Ethics textbook. Mr. BaeLee Sang-hun is currently charged with sexual abuse under Korea’s Child Welfare Law by the Kwangju Education Office, for showing a 11-minute video clip made by the French Film Director, Eleonore Pourriat, entitled, “The Oppressed Majority” (French with English subtitles) in his class.

한국어 서명 (Petition in Korean): http://j.mp/배이상헌

See film: https://youtu.be/V4UWxlVvT1A

See letter from the Film Director: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qutCNzlJvqWE-hpzYvFzufEpTkshqbPmebCmwgGmbxc/edit?usp=sharing

 

This video-clip deals with gender inequality by using the "mirroring" technique that reverses traditional gender roles. The aim of the class was to raise awareness about, and to prevent gender-based violence and discrimination. Afshan Jafar, Professor of Sociology at Connecticut College states, “The film does an excellent job of revealing the sexism, threats, and attacks that women deal with every day, and the absurdity of the responses they have to deal with in light of such experiences”.

In South Korea, sexuality education is taught by Ethics teachers, as stipulated by the National Ethics Curriculum Standards, which also protects the professional autonomy of teachers. Mr BaeLee’s gender-equality class abides by South Korea’s national, as well as the Ministry of Education guidelines. It is also in accordance with the international standard set by the UNESCO on Sexuality Education. In a 2009-UNESCO study,12-15-year old students are to learn about gender stereotypes and negative portrayals of gender that can affect one’s self-esteem, for instance pornography (UNESCO, 2009:84).  

Therefore, Mr BaeLee’s suspension from teaching is grossly inappropriate and unjust. If sentenced, he will be banned for up to ten years from entering any education-related professions or those related to children and teenagers. The South Korean Teachers’ Union has already asked the Kwangju Education Office not to overly punish teachers especially when the transgression in question needs thorough investigation and deliberation (Sep, 24th, 2019).

The unjust persecution of Mr. BaeLee reflects a much bigger and global issue we face today; the growing restriction of academic freedom around the world, the violation of our right to free and critical education, and the lack of labour rights protection. This petition stands for educational, labour and gender equality rights in South Korea. We object to the charges against Mr. BaeLee because they are disproportionate to the students’ discomfort felt due the video-clip. 1,744 people have already signed the petition in support of Mr. BaeLee since the end of July 2019. Academics, educators, citizens including, lawyers have petitioned the Kwangu Education Office to drop all charges against Mr. BaeLee.

We demand that the Kwangju Education Office stop its persecution of Mr. BaeLee immediately as due procedures leading to the charges were not observed. Mr. BaeLee was denied a fair hearing and a chance to defend himself. We demand that Mr. BaeLee’s suspension from teaching without pay since July 24th, 2019 to be revoked immediately because the authority has based its judgement on only one complaint to the Ministry of Education and a survey conducted among 325 students in the school, with which only ten have expressed discomfort about the video-clip in question.  

We support Mr. BaeLee’s right to exercise his professional judgement and decision to screen, “The Oppressed Majority” in his gender equality class. We ask that a non-punitive approach based on critical pedagogy should be used to resolve the issue e.g. discussion, debate, reconciliation, to guarantee the educational rights of both students and teachers. Citizens including, teachers have been supporting Mr BaeLee Sang-hun, by protesting daily at the Kwangju Education Office against the state’s violation of teachers’ and students’ rights to unfettered education.

We appeal to you to:

1)    Sign this petition

2)    Send your support letter as individuals and/or organizations to:

a)    The South Korean Ministry of Education 

b)    The Gwangju Education Office 

3)    Please join us at https://www.facebook.com/2019Stopstateviolence/

4)    Upload your statement of support onto the facebook page at          https://www.facebook.com/2019Stopstateviolence/

5)    Email a copy of your statement to: 2019stopstateviolence@gmail.com

 

REFERENCE

Seoul, South Korea: The Korea Herald: http://nwww.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20190925000827 

Gwanju, South Korea: Yonhap News (written in Korean), Yonhap News by Chun Jung-in, 2019-09

London, UK: The Guardian: https://www.google.co.uk/…/oppressed-majority-film-women-el…

New York, US: NYTimes: https://www.nytimes.com/…/oppressed-majority-provokes-debat…

Overlooking the Oppressed Minority In “Oppressed Majority”: https://gendersociety.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/overlooking-the-oppressed-minority-in-oppressed-majority/