“It’s because of bastards like these that our school has fallen to this state.”
“Please, calm yourself, Mr. Lee. You’re a teacher, you shouldn’t speak so rashly like this.”
“I understand my language isn’t very proper right now, but what these kids did is just too much.”
Mr. Lee threw the stack of A4 paper on the desk, the teachers looking at the paper looked with incredibly uncomfortable expressions.
“Of course. I am well aware that they crossed the line. But Mr. Lee, it’s almost admission season. If bad news spreads about our school because of this, we’ll be in hot water. Don’t you remember what the principal told us?”
The one who was speaking was the Hanja teacher of the school, the man was someone who came up to the city from the rural part of the country. He was a prime candidate for vice principal after multiple promotions.
‘He thinks he pretty much owns the place now, doesn’t he?’
Mr. Lee looked disapprovingly at the Hanja teacher.
“You said the school was trying to improve its image, didn’t you? We should take this as a chance. Things only got this bad because we never punished the delinquents!”
Mr. Lee boldly stepped forward. The school managed delinquency issues in its past. The kids in this school were rough, so fights broke out a lot, and things often took a turn for the worse. That’s why the mitigation committee existed, but most of these meetings ended with just a slap on the wrists for the bullies. Mr. Lee wasn’t a fan of this. Each time he advocated for harsher treatment for the bullies, it never worked.
To begin with, the committee was run by four parents and three teachers chosen by the principal. Mr. Lee managed to be one of those three teachers at first, he was the one who gave fitting punishment to the bullies. But at some point, his relationship with the principal went awry. Now he wasn’t even able to set foot in a single committee meeting.
“We’ll handle it, so don’t worry.”
The Hanja teacher got up from his seat with a frown. The other two teachers selected for the committee told Mr. Lee to calm down a bit before leaving as well.
“It’s all screwed.”
Mr. Lee started gulping down a cold drink from a freezer after everyone else left. Some of the teachers in the faculty called him an “outdated teacher” behind his back, he even got scolded for trying to solve an issue the right way.
“What kind of an educator wags his tail in front of someone that needs punishment?”
Teachers needed to punish kids who deserved it, it didn’t have to be corporal punishment. There still needed to be something that could make the student fear the teacher in some way, everything else would come after that. If a student did something bad, they would need to be punished before anything else.
A very long time ago, people at this age would’ve been raising their own kids already. It seemed that the world wanted people to keep being children for as long as possible as time went on.
“They should know just about everything by now, too.”
Nowadays, these kids were even smarter than the teachers thanks to the internet. The minute something goes against their liking, a video recording would be sent to the ministry of education with a formal report. Hearing about this kind of news from other schools annoyed Mr. Lee to no end.
Mr. Lee read the names written on the A4 paper. Just how much did these bastards look down on teachers, if they thought they could get away with this?
Reality couldn’t be more bitter to him than this moment.
* * *
The Hanja teacher looked into the break room one more time before clicking his tongue.
“What era does that guy think he’s in?”
The era of teachers being in power was long over. Back then, students and parents were the ones who had to watch out for the teacher. Not anymore, now, it was the other way around. Just twenty years ago, teachers could earn a decent sum through bribes. Parents just threw the money at teachers even when it wasn’t even asked. Teachers had power back in the day, it really was a world made for learned men.
But what about now?
Everyone was a learned man at this point! Everyone! To be quite honest, the Hanja teacher was afraid to go into a class sometimes. At least he was at an engineering school where all the dumb kids were. According to his friend, private schools were absolutely terrifying.
[The students don’t even listen to me. They only raise their heads when I say something’s going to be on a test. They only bother working on stuff given to them by academies while they’re in school! Public education? Stuff like that can go burn in hell! Teachers here just spend their time trying not to step on any of the kids’ toes. We don’t even get treated like a teacher at this point!]
The Hanja teacher agreed very strongly with his friend's words, schools were useless at this point in society. Whether it be online videos, academies, or tutors… there were places to learn everywhere. The entire scene for education has changed, all except for public education itself. Public education in South Korea was practically rotting in the gutters at this point.
Teaching the kids?
What a funny joke. The Hanja teacher snorted as he looked back at the break room one more time. Mr. Lee, being a disciplinary teacher, was still unable to get out of the glory days of education. How some of these people could be so slow despite being his age was honestly beyond him. Schools have changed, society as a whole increased its demand for college graduates. In high school, most kids only thought about going into college. As a result, even in his classes, kids were studying math when he was teaching Hanja.
Back in the past, this sort of behavior made him furious. Nowadays he was used to it. After all, math was hundreds of times more important than Hanja in college entrance exams. Sometimes, he even told his students to ignore his lectures completely if need be.
‘This is just business.’
The Hanja teacher knew that his reputation in school wasn’t so great, but he still got a good reputation from the really important kids.
That’s right, the important kids. The ones who were studying to go to college.
Even an engineering school can send students to one of the SKY universities! No, it’s even easier to go there from an engineering school!
Such rumors were key to improving the reputation of the school. Indeed, last year when a kid from their school got into the famous Seoul University, they put a placard about it all over the school. What did that mean?
‘It’s all just business! Business!’
It was an open secret at this point, schools were just companies with a different name. They could only survive if they had a good reputation. Survival of the fittest, the schools that adapted to the current environment could not only survive, but also thrive.
Nowadays, the world of education revolved around students and parents. In the end, the pride of an educator and whatnot was chump change compared to hard cash.
‘It’s actually even better in some aspects because of that.’
A long time ago, parents would give teachers money asking for good grades. Nowadays, though, parents give teachers money if their kids actually did well on their own. Recently, a ton more students started coming to their school to try to get into a better university. Among those students were some who came from very wealthy families.
‘Really, I’m just trying to look good to my potential customers.’
He couldn’t even get treated like a proper teacher anymore. In that case… he might as well be a service provider who tries to satisfy his customers. That was for the best.
“Mr. Lee, you’ll learn soon enough yourself. Students aren’t people you teach, they’re people you try to look good in front of.”
The Hanja teacher looked at the four parents who got invited to the mitigation committee. If he could get a proper understanding from these four, this meeting should end pretty easily just like the other ones.
‘Ah, those two are here too, as always.’
The Hanja teacher already had words about who would be coming to this meeting. He also knew that the two women in front of him right now were the ones who had real power in this committee. These women happen to have a very good relationship with the bullies’ parents in this event.
Committees like these were only attended by parents from well-off families, especially since the ones from poorer families simply couldn’t find time for the small stuff like this.
‘Plus, stuff like this takes money, too.’
Committees like these were organized by the rich. As a result, the rich were the only ones who benefited in a meaningful way from the school.
“You look good today, teacher. The ginseng I sent you must’ve worked very well.”
“Thank you, it’s helping me get through this cold winter indeed.”
“That’s good to hear.”
The Hanja teacher lowered himself in front of them, these people were customers. VIP customers, as a matter of fact. They were the type of people who contributed a significant sum of money to his retirement fund. As a result, he would have to do pretty much anything they asked of him to get on their good side.
“Joonyung’s mom seemed very disappointed by this.”
Joonyung. That was one of the bullies involved in this situation, one of the worst out of all the others. The boy was actually redoing his grade this year.
“Joonyung’s not the type to do something like this.”
“That’s what we think as well.”
“Right? Right? To be honest, I think it’s a bit foolish to gather for something this trivial. In the end, it’s just kids playing with each other.”
“Right you are.”
The woman in her forties smiled at him brightly. Despite her age, her skin was smooth like she was still in her twenties.
“The chairman’s too much, too. We asked him to handle it well and he just told us we should follow the decision that comes out of this meeting. He even said we should get ready for our kids to face expulsion.”
“Hahaha. Surely he was just joking.”
This actually confused the Hanja teacher a bit as well, opening the mitigation committee was necessary. In fact, it would’ve been weird if they didn’t, given the amount of evidence thrown at them. Like usual, the committee would open, they would zoom through the meetings, and sweep everything under the rug. That’s how the chairman and the principal liked to handle things. Strangely enough, only the principal was the one who was handling everything this time. The chairman was keeping his mouth shut, which was very unlike the man.
“It looks like there was a misunderstanding with Joonyung and his friends, which ended up like that. They think they might even be expelled...”
“There’s no way that would happen.”
“Is that so? I wonder why I keep hearing about it. It’s very worrying. Joonyung’s mother just keeps sighing like the world is ending, but the chairman isn’t saying anything. Even after all these gifts we gave to the school...” “Of course.” The Hanja teacher tried his best to try and make his customers happy. He didn’t know where these ridiculous rumors were coming from, but they were completely false. The decision from this meeting was pretty much set in stone already.
20 hours of in-school volunteer work, and a verbal apology to the victims, that should be a fitting punishment.
‘So what if the victims don’t like that punishment?’
The school had no intention of punishing the bullies.
“I’ll try contacting the chairman separately, don’t worry. Ah, we’ll have to start a formal meeting later for everyone else after this, so I’d appreciate it if you could wait a bit longer.”
“I understand. Ah, it’d be nice if we could have a meal with the teachers here afterward. What do you think, Yoonsung’s mom?”
“Of course, that sounds great.”
The sounds of merry laughter came from the break room. The Hanja teacher calmed down, seeing how this meeting was going just like all of the other ones.
* * *
“I think you guys would be satisfied with this decision, I understand the pain and suffering you felt through all this. But you also have to understand, these bullies are repenting themselves from the bottoms of their hearts. You need understanding and learn to forgive them.”
Byungsoo looked at the Hanja teacher dumbly. They worked so hard till now, they gritted their teeth to get these bullies out of here. But… the only thing they got, in the end, was a slap on the wrist. And…
“I’m so sorry, dude. God, you guys are so fucking petty. It’s just a chump change. Fine, I won’t take your money anymore, idiots.”
“Sorry for everything, retards.”
An apology that was nothing more than a thinly veiled insult.
“I got scared for nothing. That fuck scared the shit out of me.”
“Apparently that was because there was a miscommunication with the chairman.”
“Yeah, that was all it was, right? Man, Joonyung’s mom really is the best.”
“But what do we do with these fucks now?”
“What else other than to fuck them over?”
The delinquents were laughing amongst themselves without even a care in the world, Byungsoo found Joonyung’s gaze to be the scariest out of all of them.
‘Is this the end? Do we really have to sue?’
Just as thoughts like these began to fill his head.
The Hanja teacher banged the door open and entered. His hair was fluttering from how quickly he entered the room, Byungsoo caught a few beads of sweat running down the man’s face as well. The Hanja teacher raised his finger at the delinquents with a trembling hand.
“C-come here for a second.”
He gave Byungsoo a glare before leaving promptly, the delinquents followed the teacher with a confused expression. After exactly 20 minutes, they all came back to class with pale faces.
* * *
Maru fiddled with his phone dumbly on the windowsill. Money and power, what great things.
“Dude, the chairman came to our school.”
“Dunno. The Hanja teacher got dragged away though.”
“I heard him shouting in the hallway. Something about wanting to see him die?”
“What the hell?”
Maru started humming to himself, listening to those around him talk.
“Hm hm. The law, the law. What a great thing it is.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
SKY is an abbreviation of the following Universities: Seoul, Korea, and Yonsei. They are basically the Ivy League of Korea—supposedly top-tier, and difficult to get into.