South Korean parents are increasingly turning to "uncle service" providers to make sure their childrendon't have to put up with bullying in schools. Suchservices are apparently a pricey but efficientalternative to having schools handle the matter.
Earlier this month, Korean media reported on thegrowing business of leasing intimidating uncles toeither protect children from bullies, gatherevidence of bullying for filing an official complaint with the school, or even contacting thebully's parents at their workplace.
Most companies offer different packages to meet clients' needs, and business is reportedlybooming. But while many South Koreans view this type of service in a positive light, there arethose who see it as simply answering bullying with another type of bullying.
According to a recent report by South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, "uncle services" arebecoming popular all over the Asian country.
For example, a company in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul is offering concerned parents the UnclePackage, which basically consists of hiring intimidating-looking men in their 30s and 40s toaccompany their children to and from school every day for two weeks, pose as their uncle andgive a stern warning to bullies to stop picking on them. This service is priced at 500,000 KRWper day.
Another company in the Guro-gu district of Seoul offers a different solution to school bullying. It offers an "Evidence Package", where its employees will try their hardest to gather evidenceof the bully's activities to be presented before the school board in a formal complaint.
The idea is that this evidence will help the parents demand a quick and smooth solution tothe problem, without having to wait for a long internal investigation. This package reportedlycosts 400,000 KRW.
Perhaps the most impressive and most expensive anti-bullying service is offered by a companyin Anseong city. Their package involves contacting the bully's parents at their workplace, showing them photos of their child's victim, and asking them to ensure that the bullying stops.
If the parents choose not to cooperate, the hired "uncles" will stand in front of their workplaceor in their company's lobby shouting "The parent of a bully works here".
The Anseong-based company admits that the victim's parents could confront the bully'sparents themselves, but adds that such meeting often result in the parents fighting each other.
To avoid this unnecessary violence, clients can just pay 2 million KRW for 4 visits by theanti-bullying company's employees.
Parents reportedly argue that such anti-bullying services are better than waiting for schools toresolve bullying incidents. Because teachers, parents, lawyers and other outside experts mustall coordinate in order to attend special school meetings in cases of alleged bullying, resolutions often take too long.
At the same time, some experts claim that parents taking matters into their own hands isn'tideal either.
"Private sanction is just another form of violence. School violence needs to be resolved byimproving the system," said Kim Yoon Tae, a professor at Korea University.