D-Day and Korean Hooliganism
Today is the day of the high school suneung examination (수능), which for third year students is not only the culmination of their schooling that largely determines their futures, but for many is the unofficial arrival of adulthood. The exam results are released in December followed by graduation, in the New Year.
As I wrote previously (A Day of Reckoning), the effects of suneung reach deep into all levels of Korean society and provide an opportunity to both support students and celebrate with them. Suenung is very much a social event and first and second year students, and supporters congregate outside schools in the early hours of the exam morning where banners are waved, chants shouted, students cheered and encouraged. If ever Korean students are going to be rowdy or get drunk, which occasionally happens, it is likely to happen in the evening but as usual, it will be tame compared to western teenage rowdiness.
If ever you see a group of British lads with their shirts-off, anywhere other than on a beach, you can expect rowdiness. British males, normally the Neanderthal type, pull their shirts of when England has won a football match or when they are drunk and it is all part of a display of revolting masculinity. If, on Thursday evening, you should witness a crowd of lads stripped to the waist outside a school, it won’t have anything to do with masculinity or aggression. However, lads with their shirts off is also viewed as coarse and improper by many Koreans. In a cute kind of way, taking off your shirt, perhaps tearing it up in the process, and then singing a round of songs with your classmates, is about as radical as Korean youngsters can get. And if you stand and watch you won’t be intimidated, assaulted or abused.
© 林東哲 2010 Creative Commons Licence.