A new Korean film called Silenced, or Dogani (The Crucible), has prompted a national outcry in South Korea, with citizens demanding tougher penalties for sex crimes and stronger laws to protect children and the disabled from sexual abuse.
The graphic movie, based on a bestselling novel of the same name, exposes the injustice of the outcome of the 2005 Inhwa case, where female deaf students as young as seven years old were raped and sexually abused by school authorities at Gwangju Inhwa School, a school for hearing impaired students. To add to the horror, justice was never served for these girls (of the four convicted school officials—which included the school’s principal, who bought his way out of jail—only two were prosecuted and were only sentenced light jail time), and the public turned a blind eye to the case until writer Gong Ji-young brought the marginalized story back to the center in 2009.
Seen by more than 4 million viewers—including South Korea’s President, Lee Myung-bak—and covered by major media outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Jezebel, Silenced has made a progressive impact by recently helping Korea’s National Assembly to pass a reformed bill on sexual crimes, reports The Korea Times. The “Dogani Law,” named after the Korean title of the film, significantly increases the prison sentence (up to life imprisonment) for offenders abusing children under 13 and the disabled.
Furthermore, the “Dogani Law” has also abolished a controversial clause, “inability to resist,” which had required victims, specifically those who are disabled, to prove that they were physically or mentally inept to resist properly when the crime was being committed—a loophole that gave sex offenders a way out.
With the government passing tighter laws, the police are also conducting an extensive re-investigation of the Inhwa case after more accounts of sexual abuse have been noted with some reporting that students without families were killed and secretly buried near the school, according to The Korea Times. Today, the Gwangju Inhwa School has officially shut down.
To help the stories of the students affected by the Inhwa case stay on the surface, please watch the film and share their story with friends and family. You can also purchase a “Break the Silence” charity tee, and all profits will be donated to the Holder Center in South Korea, an organization that has been providing shelter for actual victims of the Inhwa case.
Silenced is scheduled to show at various theaters in North America this Friday, November 4th. See below for locations/showtimes:
Century 20 Huntington Beach
7777 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, CASan JoseCentury 20 Great Mall1010 Great Mall Drive, Milpitas, CA
New YorkAMC Ridgefield Park75 Challenger Road, Ridgefield Park, NJ
SeattleAMC Southcenter3600 Southcenter Mall, Tukwila, WA
PhiladelphiaAMC 3091210 Bethlehem Pike, North Wales, PA
AtlantaAMC Colonial825 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd., Lawrenceville, GA
ChicagoAMC Showplace Niles301 Golf Mill Center Niles, IL 60714
DallasCinemark 24 Legacy7201 North Central Expressway, Plano, TX
PortlandCentury Eastport4040 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR
Las VegasCentury Suncoast9090 Alta Drive, Las Vegas, NV
VancouverCineplex Silvercity Coquitlam170 Schoolhouse Street, Coquitlam, BC, Canada
TorontoCineplex Odeon Sheppard4861 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, Canada
For more information, please go to http://www.silenced2011.com/
[Photos: bluesky/Kwangnam Ilbo]