In the early 1990s, there we several reports of students who had died either from student or teacher bullying in Japan. The teacher bullying was more the sort of making students swim or boat across stormy straights to drown. South Korea has also had its reputation for school bullying as well. Often, as in the case of North America, the result of bullying is the victim’s later public suicide.
Even in the 21st century, angry mothers in South Korea have been standing up to private school directors about the routine debasement and beating of students by teachers and support staff. Beatings used to be rampant in the public schools too but due to public reaction the brutality has been quelled. Other countries such as Vietnam, Burma, and even Thailand have their nasty histories and current problems.
In Japan, the phenomenon of student on student bullying, ijime, イジメ can be attributed to the conformity of code of deri kugi wa utarereru – the nail that sticks up gets hammered down. In South Korea, with it’s mandatory military service and it’s paranoia of invasion from the North, along with being called the Irish of the Orient; one can imagine it is a tough place to grow up.
Look deeper into these Asian countries’ recent history and you can find that there is the recent militaristic influence of the United States post World War II influence in play. The hierarchical school system of Japan is modeled after that of England taken to the nth degree. In Japan students who are not close friends regularly refer to each other by their sir names. If a student is one year older they are referred to as sampai (reverent senior) and kampai (junior) according to their relative ages. In South Korea, older brothers and sisters are expected to demand respect from their young siblings and free to dish out beatings if that respect is not granted. To have a younger sibling bully an older sibling is to risk extreme social humiliation.
South Korea and China have military summer camps designed to whip students into shape socially.
Following the American cinema fascination with gangs and gangsters, both Japan and South Korea have had their own issues with these subculture groups. In Japan used to exist the infamous bozozoku motorcyle gangs modeled loosely off a combination of the US 50s greasers and the 60s UK mods. In recent years these bike clubs have tapered but in the 80s and 90s they were rampant. South Korea had its rival school and taiekwando clubs match up against each other.
Much like our North American counterparts sociologists have pointed to bullying at school as the root of the pull for lonely students toward gangs in order to gain protection and prestige. Japanese and South Korean bully films tend toward increasing exaggeration toward the climax in the plot. So the culmination of a gang fight near the end of the film is almost inevitable.
Enter China, with its rapidly growing upper class in the large cities. In such an environment, groups of students from differing economic classes – often related to the decile level of their local schools – often chase each other down and fight. Media about such social problems are often banned by the Communist government there, but the media that does come out is compelling.
The Bully Issue has become a rich source of material for Japanese and South Korean novels and film in the last two decades. Some critics compliment these media with recent social changes to more compassionate schools in Japan and South Korea. Here is a look at some of the more epic films dealing with these issues.
All About Lily Chou Chou (jp) [torrent]
Of all the bully films from Japan, this is one of the most brutal. You even have junior high school girls harassing two boys by calling them gay. The scene where a groups of students make a boy crawl naked through a muddy rice paddy is fairly poignant.
IMBD description: Life isn’t easy for a group of high school kids growing up absurd in Japan’s pervasive pop/cyber culture. As they negotiate teen badlands- school bullies, parents from another planet, lurid snapshots of sex and death- these everyday rebels without a cause seek sanctuary, even salvation, through pop star savior Lily Chou-Chou, embracing her sad, dreamy songs and sharing their fears and secrets in Lilyholic chat rooms. Immersed in the speed of everyday troubles, their lives inevitably climax in a fatal collision between real and virtual identities, a final logging-off from innocence. (taken from IMDB.com)
Crows Zero (jp)
Here is another “grandaddy” of the Japanese Bully Film/Gang fight genre. This film has an escalation to a huge rumble; artfully shot in a rain storm. You can almost feel the blows.
Crows Zero: set in an all boys Japanese high school, where instead of having educational classes and courses, what gets put on screen (I haven’t read the manga obviously) happens to be an ecosystem of triad society split into different turfs according to grade levels, classes and reputation. Unification of all levels in the school is a challenge, and new boy Genji Takaya (Shun Oguri) throws down the gauntlet on the first day to take down reigning school gangster Tamao Serizawa (Takayuki Yamada), which he finds impossible given that the latter’s picked up by the police.
But of course there are unwritten rules to follow in order to engage the top, and he enlists the help of a two-bit average Yakuza hoodlum Ken Katagiri (Kyosuke Yabe) to help plot his path of success. For the most parts, the story is simple to follow, as we shadow Genji in his quest to conquer the high school class by class, through sheer brute force, gaining of respect, or simply just friendship established. As his reputation grows, so does his threat towards Serizawa, which sets up the inevitable climatic showdown where the rival gangs gotta settle who’s gonna rule the school. As the saying goes, one mountain cannot hide 2 tigers.
Prison School (jp TV series, anime, manga) [torrent]
Combine the elements of yaoi, SM, and ijime into one hilarious series and you have Prison School. It proves that girls can be just as mean and vindictive as boys: to each other and to the boys. Feminists would freak out at the beady breast sweat breaking out on one of the jailers. Unrequited lesborotica serves as another humour vehicle. Through humour the perversion, almost sexual, behind bullying is exposed for the world to laugh at. More satire like this is needed to help show how stupid -as well as psychologically deranged – bullying is. People need to shelve their political correctness to view this series. It has about the same level of taste as South Park.
From wikipedia: Hachimitsu Academy, one of the strictest girls academies in Tokyo, has decided to admit boys into their system. Kiyoshi Fujino is one of these new boys, but he discovers to his shock that he and his four friends—Takehito “Gakuto” Morokuzu, Shingo Wakamoto, Jouji “Joe” Nezu, and Reiji “Andre” Andou—are the only male students among 1,000 girls. Even worse are the draconian laws that are still in place, which punishes even the most minor infractions with a stay in the school’s prison. A series of perverted accidents causes the five boys to be “arrested” and receive an ultimatum: either stay a month in the school’s Prison Block or be expelled.
The Blue Bird – Aoi Tori (jp) [torrent link]
Higashigaoka Junior High School is in turmoil as one of the pupils, Noguchi, who had been bullied, attempted suicide last term. On the first day of the new term, a substitute teacher arrives to take the second year class. When the teacher, Murauchi (Hiroshi Abe), introduces himself, the pupils are surprised by his stutter. He has a speech impediment. Unable to speak eloquently, Murauchi faces his pupils with ‘words of truth’. His first instruction to the pupils is to return Noguchi’s desk and chair to the original place in the classroom. Every morning Murauchi greets the empty desk, “Good morning, Noguchi.” This causes a ripple beyond the classroom and among other teachers and parents, but Murauchi will not stop doing it. Eventually the day comes when Murauchi must leave. http://asianwiki.com/The_Blue_Bird
Other Japanese Bully films of note:
Arigato, Okan http://asianmediawiki.com/Arigato,_Okan
See You After School (sk) [torrent]
A dark comedy from Korea with some of the worst language that you would never see done to this extent in films from most other countries. Brilliantly plotted within the space of one school day. Everything Nam Kong-Dal tries falls hilariously apart. What makes this movie work so well is its increasing hierarchy of bullies: from discompassionate friends you don’d want, to the “dolphins”, the teachers who demean and beat, to the “sharks”, the top dogs, and the school gangs. Kong_Dal manages to bring it all down on him at the 4pm dismissal fight date approaches.
I think Bong Tae Gyu is a brilliant comedic actor; reminiscent of a very young hapless Jerry Lewis without the whine. Catch him in an earlier film where he plays an impotent young man ridiculed by his village until he is given a magic fertility potion.
Alternate Titles: 방과후 옥상
Goong-dahl, a typical loser billed as the “unluckiest man alive” returned to the school after one year’s intense training of reject student’s treatments. Now he is up to the challenge of posing him self other than a typical loser. With the leads from his another old fellow mate he started with a new face by threatening and rescuing hot girl “Min-ah” from several oldies in the school. Everything went smoothly up to the plan until one of the bully is happened to be the schools notorious thug “Jae-koo” thus receiving invitation to a grand duel on the roof top after the school.
Attack the Gas Station (sk) [torrent]
Another classic from Korea – not about high school – where some hapless villians try, and fail, to rob a gas station. Another hierachy of increasing bullies as things get out of control. Lots of references to the effect of mandatory military service in South Korea.
From AsianWiki: Four guys with nothing better to do decide to rob a gas station. When they find out there isn’t as much money as they expected, they lock up the employees and take over to make more money. They don’t know how to run the gas pumps, and when the customers complain, the guys take them hostage. Everything is more or less under a chaotic kind of control, until they order Chinese food and make the mistake of harassing the delivery boy. He rounds up a bunch of other delivery boys to attack the gas station. Another confrontation with a high school gang and the local mafia provokes a bigger fight. Finally the police arrive for the final showdown.
Beijing Bicycle (ch)
I actually teach this film as part of my studies on China. The underlying social class commentary in this film is nothing short of brilliant. I find the ending haunting and deeply disturbing. However, this film is a very realistic commentary about the social changes in China over the last twenty years. Brilliant cinematic panormas of early 21st century Beijing. One compelling scene is when the boy who stole the bicycle starts screaming at his angry father – all the richboy spoiled brat attitudes of a generation come spewing out.
Beijing Bicycle (simplified Chinese: 十七岁的单车; traditional Chinese: 十七歲的單車; pinyin: Shí Qī Suì de Dānchē; literally: “‘seventeen-year-old’s bicycle’ or ‘seventeen-year-old bachelor’“) is a 2001 Chinese drama film by Sixth Generation Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai, with joint investment from the Taiwanese Arc Light Films and the French Pyramide Productions. The film stars first-time actors Cui Lin and Li Bin, supported by the already established actresses Zhou Xun and Gao Yuanyuan. It premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on 17 February 2001 and won the Jury Grand Prix, but was subsequently banned in Mainland China. The ban was eventually lifted in 2004.
Beijing Bicycle revolves around a seventeen-year-old boy Guei (Cui) from the countryside who came to Beijing to seek work. He finds a job with a courier company, which assigns him a brand-new bicycle. After it is stolen one day, the stubborn Guei goes on a search for his missing bicycle. At the other end of the city, Jian (Li) is a schoolboy who buys Guei’s stolen bicycle from a second-hand market. When Guei’s search brings the two boys together, more than the ownership of the bicycle is brought into question. The film explores the theme of youth as well as several social issues, including class, youth delinquency, theft, and rural-urban socio-economic divisions and change.
Films like 15 are rarely made outside the universe of the controversial Larry Clarke in the West. The underground guerilla style of giving disillusioned gang youth in Singapore a video camera to go into their underground jungle is nothing short of compelling. The last sequence where two of the boys are just short of being lovers in their loyalty to each other is a very close look at teenage angst about mortality and loyalty.
From wikipedia: The film stars three real-life juvenile gangsters, all aged 15, giving an accurate depiction of Chinese teenage gang-life in the Singapore suburbs. The 2003 film features two more gangsters as characters as well as a fight sequence with more affluent English-educated Singapore youths. Rather than scripting the movie or employing professional actors, Tan attempted to capture the troubled lives of his characters in realistic fashion, apparently without much prior scripting.
[please note that Nihon Naifu does not encourage downloading movies from torrents for free IF alternative sources which can be rented or bought can be easily found. Nonetheless, torrent links are provided to promote access for individual study]