Update: Since this article was written, it has been suggested by a child psychologist that the child in this article has a form of autism, a condition like any mental health issue that is highly stigmatized in South Korea. 


Location: Language Institute, South Korea

Subject Name: Shine (real name not disclosed for anonymity purposes).

Age: 6 (Kindergarten level).

Issue: Subject displaying acute abnormalities of aggressive behavior and mental unrest.

Months 1 and 2

When not punching and cursing her, subject must be torn from mother to remain in class. Mother laughs continuously. Laughter seemingly nervous.

Child will not respond to teacher. Mainly cries, loudly. Fist thumps table aggressively. Other students look scared.

When speaking, subject refers to himself in third person.

Student refuses to eat lunch. Must be fed by teachers hand a lot. Whilst crying. And cursing absent mother.


Months 3 and 4

Subject continues to refer to himself in third person; “Shine doesn’t like seaweed soup”, is not an option, as teachers humanely force-feed him the salt-ridden broth. Rice appears on most parts of subjects body during eating. Lunch tray appears more of a bullseye to the table’s food-splatted dartboard.

Subject displays unnatural levels of aggressive behavior. The divide between subject’s Taekwondo classes and English class seemingly invisible. Other students injured, crying, and scared for their well-being on daily basis.


Months 5 and 6

Subject has shown an outstanding ability to read, speak and retain the English language.

Subject no longer refers to himself in the  third-person term ‘Shine’. Now uses the more appropriate first-person singular “I”.

Issues: Subject shows little interest in reading books along with rest of class. Instead, pages are chewed. Frequent bite marks taken out of text books. Drool on table, especially during impromptu laughing fits.

Not playing nicely. Subject complains of abandonment at break time. Teachers not baffled at rejection.

Cause of behavior: Unknown.

Months 7 and 8

An improvement in lunch time behavior. Subject eating food with 50% less rice coverage on body. Rice still appears in hair. On shirt. On subject’s back (cause unknown).

Subject appears to have a calmer side. Occasional aggressive hyperventilating and anger-driven sideways glances at other students are balancing out with new forms of joy. Specifically – sporadic, maniacal, drool-spraying laughter.


Months 9 and 10

Subject’s Mother reportedly crying in consultation room, allegedly not knowing what to do” with subject. Home situation suspected to be similar to classroom. Father quoted as “given up” on subject in regards to behavioral control.

New class project: Ninja-themed Christmas play. Subject’s aggression seemingly satisfied and concentrated by role as violent dragon assassin. Class performance in aftermath of practice: Improved. Break time activity: still violent. Student injuries/complaints of assualt and/or verbal abuse: persistent.

Subject complaining of being “left out” of break time  games by fellow classmates. Complaint adhered to. Fellow classmates’ reasoning understood. Subject most likely missing one kimbap slice short of a lunch box.

New noise from subject: “Yak sound”. Subject appears to be taking on premature symptoms of the Korean ‘ajoshi’, or, older Korean man. More acutely, the pre-spit phlegm clearing noise. Subject encouraged to use tissue for phlegm-related issues.

Months 11 and 12

‘Yak noise’ in subject subsiding, due in part to fellow students’ disgust and register of correct animal sound.

Subject’s aggressive behavior found successful in ninja play. New recorded drama character ‘Evil Penguin’ similarly conductive in concentrating anger.

Fellow students now acutely aware of subject’s unawareness of social graces, responsibilities, and general grip on reality outside of Taekwondo classes. Subject wishes to be ‘Taekwondo Master’ in the future. Profession encouraged by teachers.


Time span: 1 year

Suspected (unverified) malady: Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

Possible cure: Love, time, attention, and strict discipline.

Likelihood that cure will take effect through parents: Highly unlikely, partly due to institution’s censorship of explicit behavioral details in official reports.

Likelihood that cure will take effect through teachers:  The best efforts were expended.

We now pass that drool-soaked, milk teeth-gnawed batten onwards.

The experiment continues.


2 thoughts on “We Need to Talk about Shine

  1. Wow, just found your site, and love this article. It’s definitely sadly true that so many kids (at least in Korea, from my experience) are labeled as having discipline problems when all they really need is love. I don’t understand why someone would have children and then just shove them onto other people from such a young age and then claim “I don’t know what to do with them anymore.” What a shame. 😦


    • Thanks Vanessa. Yes this child probably wasn’t getting the right upbringing at home….but he was also a force of nature so it’s the nature/nurture argument. It’s hard for me to judge when I’m not a parent myself, far easier to talk about than actually do.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s