Controversy over Soongsil University professor’s verbal abuse and minor discipline

The tragic case of a Soongsil University graduate student is in the public eye. The student’s extreme choice was reportedly triggered by verbal abuse from his advisor, particularly when the professor accused the student’s parents of referring to “psychiatric drugs. This is causing a huge social backlash.

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How events start and progress

In January 2023, a PhD student (Mr. G) at Sungsil University took his own life after returning home after being verbally abused by his supervisor (Mr. N) while participating in the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the United States. The family said the deceased was diagnosed with extreme stress and delusions. The professor denied responsibility, saying, “If the parents had taken care of her medication, she wouldn’t have died.” The Human Rights Committee of Soongsil University recognized the professor’s abusive and inappropriate remarks and demanded severe discipline. However, the results went in favor of the professor.

Student brother also goes to extremes

Despite an investigation by Soongsil University’s Human Rights Committee into the incident and calls for discipline, the Faculty Disciplinary Committee handed the professor a “reprimand,” which is a minor penalty. It reinforced the professor’s attitude that student deaths were the fault of families who didn’t give them medication. In response, bereaved families and the public are expressing disappointment, and the school’s decision has been criticized.

While the investigation was ongoing, Ms. G’s brother took his own life due to guilt over his brother’s death, and the bereaved family withdrew the report, saying there was “no point in further investigation. However, the School Human Rights Committee decided that the case was serious and continued to investigate ex officio, and recognized both Professor N’s verbal abuse of Ms. G and Professor N’s secondary aggressive remarks toward the victim’s parents after the incident, and demanded a decision on severe disciplinary action, but could not overcome the atmosphere in the faculty community that looked down on the professor.

Social reactions and follow-ups

The incident sparked a debate about power structures within academia and how professors are held accountable for their actions. Bereaved families and society are calling for stricter measures against professors. The incident also highlights the need to raise awareness of human rights issues and mental health within universities.

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