Seung-min’s room has not changed in seven months. Even the bed is exactly as he made it, just hours before taking his own life. The 13-year-old was bullied at school, and he committed suicide by jumping out of his home’s seventh floor window.
His mother, Lim Jee-young, reads his suicide note as she has countless times since his death. In the note he describes being beaten and robbed by boys in his class, burned with lighters and having electrical wire tied around his neck as a leash. At the end of the letter he says: “I love you mum and dad, please don’t be sad I’m gone, I’ll wait for you.”
Lim had no idea her son was being bullied. “The bullies began to come to our house before we got home and beat him,” she says. “It got to the extent they were using a wooden stick and boxing gloves. But he didn’t tell us any of this.”
Lim and her husband were called by the police the day he died last December. She recalls the moment she arrived home and saw a body outside her apartment block covered in a white cloth.
“I pulled back the cloth and saw my son,” she says. “I put my arms around him and felt he was still warm. I said he’s still alive, and I called for a doctor, but they told me he is already dead. When I looked up I saw the open window.” As she says this, Lim looks over at the window her son jumped from, reliving the horror.
The boys who bullied her son have since been prosecuted and sent to a juvenile correction center, but Lim — herself a teacher — says the school is also at fault. “The school wants to cover it up. Just five months before my son was killed, a girl in the same grade committed suicide because of bullying. But nothing was done, so it happened again.”
The boy’s school declined to comment for this story to CNN but has since replaced its principal.
School violence in South Korea is causing alarm at the highest levels of government.
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