I think as long as I’ve been blogging, people have been asking me to throw down my opinions on various alleged bullying instances in k-pop. So here’s a post about bullying. Maybe it’s not the post about bullying that you wanted to read, but it’s the one that I’m going to make you read, so too bad for you if you don’t like it.
Did [insert group here] bully [insert group member here]? Anyone asking this question of any group ever is being a pussy and avoiding the real issue which is: why do they care? Why do k-pop fans care so much about what goes on behind closed doors in some group that they’re not even in? Slayer fans didn’t withdraw support from the group when it was found that their guitarists didn’t get along, or that half the original band hated the other half so why do k-pop fans care when some group of girls don’t get along with some other girl who you’ve never even met and never cared much about anyway?
I’ll tell you why, as if the answer’s not obvious enough – because k-pop fans can all relate, because they’re all getting the shit beaten out of them in school, so even mention the word “bully” and whether true or false it hits them really close to home. They spend so much time imagining how horrible it would be for whoever the alleged victim is to be bullied that it completely clouds their judgement of anything else, and good old confirmation bias kicks in. They don’t have to stretch their imaginations very far to imagine being bully victims either – the Korean school system is a hornet’s nest of bullying and corruption and in other countries things are sometimes only marginally better depending on what school you go to. Shit gets even worse for South Koreans when they graduate from that school garbage and join the army (mandatory) and experience the fun bullying culture therein (also mandatory). No wonder so many people want to dodge that shit any way they can, I certainly wouldn’t join the bully army if I was South Korean – fuck that. Take orders from some assholes and dorm with a bunch of violent fuckheads every night? If I wanted that experience I would have joined a k-pop group.
It’s little wonder that these Korean bully victims flock to online sites to bully others and feel powerful, it’s obviously to compensate for the lack of power that they’re experiencing in their real lives as inch by inch they get wangdda’ed to death. On the Internet nobody can tell that you’re the bread-shuttle in real life so you can act hard and talk as tough as you wish you were without fear of reprisal. I’m sure it’s also the same for international fans who obsess about bullying too. Everyone loves to talk big but deep down, I know you’re all dying inside, so being older, wiser and qualified as fuck about this shit, I’m here to help all you lovely readers out there who are experiencing schoolyard bullying.
My bullying-related qualifications: I went to what was one of the roughest high schools in my state at the time. I’m not sure if it still is, but the school shall remain nameless for legal reasons. My old school would probably be called an iljin school if it was in Korea, and it matched the profile of that type of school, with many similarities. Physical fights were a daily situation and a well-loved spectator sport, kids would yell “fight! fight! fight!” when one broke out and the whole school would quickly gather around to watch. Teachers rarely intervened because kids would study the teacher’s patrols and synchronise their fights with when the teachers were on the other side of the yard. The girls would fight almost as often as the boys, although the fights looked different – guys would slug it out with fists and feet, girls did more hair-pulling, face-scratching and school bag sabotage. The school also had a compulsory uniform policy… which hardly anyone adhered to. Some people wore the uniform if they liked it (although it was ugly, daggy blue jumpers and shirts, plus blue tablecloth dresses for the girls) but most students didn’t give a shit and wore whatever the fuck they wanted. Smoking, drinking, underage sex and drug-dealing were all commonplace, stabbings and rapes weren’t unprecedented and switchblades were a standard item for kids who were also in the local street gangs (no guns – this is Australia, guns are considered “a wimp’s tool for people who don’t know how to fight” here). Kids from my school would also often terrorise kids from the neighbouring much more posh school when they caught the same public transport (these other kids were easily identifiable because they actually wore their school uniforms, making them easy targets). The reputation of my school was so terrible that during my time there they actually changed their name to try and improve the school’s image, to presumably little effect. I found out many years later (when I went to Uni and met people who had been to proper schools) why my school was so bad – the school contained a “problem teenager unit” within it, and all the kids who were transferred from one school to another, to another for bullying or violent behaviours that were bad enough for the kids to be expelled routinely but not bad enough to wind them up in juvenile detention were eventually just dumped in my school’s “problem unit” because nobody else knew what to do with them. I think they were getting some special behavioural coaching or whatever the fuck, but it sure as hell didn’t seem to make much difference whatever it was. (I wasn’t a “problem teenager” though, I just went to the school because my parents said that I had to go to high school, and it just happened to be the closest one in my area.) And of course the bullying was completely epidemic and uncontrollable by anyone in authority.
As a teenager I wasn’t the bald-as-fuck skinhead-looking motherfucker that I am today, I actually had hair and it was long, because I was into heavy metal and I thought long hair looked cool because that’s how the only people who I looked up to in life at that time (heavy metal musicians) had their hair. Naturally this made me look different to the other guys (who either had short hair or fashionable-at-the-time 80s mullets) and therefore this made me a target for bullying. On top of this, back then (unlike today) I was also really shy generally speaking, so now I was a double-target. I could only have been more of a target if I was a “nip” (visibly Asian) or a “wog” (visibly Italian/Greek) – those kids copped it the worst, racist bullying was a big thing at my school. My point being that I’m very experienced with being bullied and the bullying around my school that I and others experienced got very, very extreme, as extreme as anything I’ve heard about happening in Korea. So I’m perfectly qualified to tell you how to deal with this shit, and this is going to be a real guide with real advice that works (or it worked for me), not the namby-pamby politically correct advice that other sites will give you if you search up this topic.
KPOPALYPSE’S HELPFUL* HINTS FOR BULLY SURVIVAL
*helpfulness not guaranteed
1. Do not appease bullies – ever
One day I was walking between classes at my school and I was stopped by a bully who grabbed me by my clothes and wouldn’t let go.
“Hey you, I know you. You owe me money.”
“Who are you? You’ve got me mixed up with someone else.”
“Don’t get smart. I know you.”
“No you don’t.”
“Yeah I do. Give me your money, now, cunt.”
“What did you say?”
He punched me in the stomach and ran like a bitch. Was it worth giving him any money? Fuck no, I wasn’t gonna do that. It’s not that I couldn’t have survived without the money, it’s the principle – I didn’t want to let a bully win. I also knew that if I gave in, it wouldn’t help me in the long term as he’d be back to try it again the next day, and besides who’s to say he wouldn’t have taken my money and punched me in the stomach anyway? If a bully sets up rules, don’t play by them, because when a bully makes rules they’re always set up so you can’t win anyway. If they tease you about your hairstyle or clothes, don’t change anything to make them happy, it just shows that you’re a pushover and a soft target, which will then attract more bullying, not less, as they make you jump through even more hoops for their amusement. Someone got a problem with your k-pop (or any other) music taste, let them have a problem. The guy who punched me left me alone after that incident and focused on someone else who actually was giving him his lunch money. Later, he was caught doing some other more extreme criminal shit and sent to juvenile detention, while I laughed.
2. Do not try to fit in
Bullies single out oddballs and perceived weak targets who won’t put up resistance. However if you’ve been singled out, the core group of non-singled-out people isn’t going to accept you. You’ve been socially “tainted” so you’re now an oddball whether you like it or not. Don’t worry about being friends with the in-crowd, maybe chat to some of the other oddballs instead. Find some kid who is being given hell and treat him the way that you’d like to be treated by others and you’ll have a friend for life which is a lot more valuable than nods of approval from the school’s trendy fuckstain crowd. There’s safety in numbers, and while numbers can’t always be relied upon at all times it doesn’t hurt to have allies, so even if you find that other ostracised kid a bit annoying, get to know them and you might just find someone who’s got your back in a crisis. Beats having nobody on your side.
3. Ignore taunts, build self-confidence
Words said in real life is much the same as words said over the Internet. A lot of purely verbal bullying can be simply ignored or laughed off. The ability to do this effectively comes down to self-confidence. The best way to increase self-confidence is to find some things that you enjoy doing (it can be anything) and do them and get good at them, this helps you develop more a sense of yourself and what’s truly valuable about who you are, then insults and taunts won’t have the same effect that they once did. Who cares what a bunch of idiots think of you anyway? I’ve probably got hundreds of online haters insulting me in all corners of the Internet by now, if I spent time caring about what they think of me I’d probably never write again. Fuck ’em.
4. If you go to an authority, they may not care – also prepare for escalation
If teachers, principals and parents are powerful and have the ability to legitimately change things for you – great, definitely use the resources available… but be aware that after you tell the teacher, you still have to go to class with that bully and he’s going to resent what you just did. If the anti-bully controls in your school are weak or non-existent, like in my old school, or in a lot of Korean schools where authorities are too worried about the reputation of the school to tackle bullying in any meaningful way, you might just encounter more violence after you go to authorities rather than less. One day some kids who bullied me at school recognised me on the weekend when I was in my dad’s car as he was driving me to the supermarket, and spat on the windshield as he was pulling into the carpark. My dad then by chance met the bullies in person in the supermarket aisle and gave them one of the most savage tongue-lashings I’ve ever seen anybody give anyone in public. The kids were completely humiliated, and although I enjoyed the justice of this public dressing-down I was also scared, because I knew the next day that I would face reprisals and the school wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. I was right – those kids escalated their bullying significantly after the incident. If the authorities have real power, use it, but if they are paper tigers don’t get them involved. You can find out how effective they are by talking to or observing other people who tried that route before you and what kind of results they got out of the process.
5. Avoid violence, but self-defence is acceptable and sometimes practical
How I stopped being a bullying victim: In school there was always a gang of people who would say dumb shit to me as I walked past where they always hung out to go to the “music block” to practice music. I’d just ignore it because it was just words and I didn’t give a shit, I had enough self-confidence by this point to ignore the dumb crap people said about my appearance or whatever. Then one day, things escalated. The gang surrounded me in a circle and all started pushing me, trying to start a fight. I let them push me for a bit but it started to piss me off after a short while – I was trapped and I wanted to get to where I was going. So without warning I randomly picked one of the gang who was pushing me and punched him in the nose. It wasn’t the best punch in the world, I regret not landing it slightly better, but it worked – everyone stopped pushing. I’ll never forget the look on the kid’s face, like I had just taken away his favourite toy. The rest of the gang backed away and none of them ever said shit to me after that… nor did anyone else as the news that the long-haired weird guy who normally never said boo to a mouse just king-hit some fucking loser spread around the whole school. Suddenly people kept their distance and didn’t want to take me on. Bullying problem over.
You’ll never hear this advice from anyone else because it’s not politically correct to advocate violence, but the fact is that bullies single out weak targets, and if you show them that you’re not a weak target, all but the most determined bullies will quickly move onto a softer, easier-to-bully target and leave you in peace (the really determined bully might require multiple beat-downs). On the other hand if you don’t retaliate against violence, you’ll be perceived as weak and you’ll likely receive more violence. Kpopalypse firmly advocates anti-bully violence in self-defence situations where you are backed into a corner and have no other option except to get your head kicked in by an asshole, just don’t do anything moronic and massively illegal. The plan is to stop bullying and improve your life, not to spend the rest of your life in jail, so only do what is required as legally justifiable self-defence, no more. You’ll be surprised how little is required anyway.
6. If you’re being bullied by a gang, understand gang mentality
A guy I know got into an altercation with some bullies. I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow he managed to piss off about 40 members of a bully gang. Oops. They surrounded him with blades and backed him into a corner, ready to tear him to shreds. He had nothing but a stick. This is what he said to them:
“You guys have me outnumbered, and you can very easily kill me right now, but I guarantee and absolutely promise you this – the first person to attack me is going to lose a fuckin’ eyeball in the process. Which one of you will it be?”
The gang circled around him, but each time he lunged at one of the gang members screaming “is it YOU, huh?”, they backed away. They all knew that together they could take him, but nobody wanted to be that guy. Eventually after a tense standoff, the gang dispersed with nobody being hurt. The moral of the story is that bullies in a group are tough as a unit, but weak in isolation. Why do you think they form a group in the first place – because they’re weak individually and they know it. Isolate them one by one and make it personal – they will crumble.
7. Don’t kill yourself
That might seem like really basic advice, but it’s trufax. Suicide attempts only let your bullies know that their efforts to control you and make your life miserable are working. If you fall in a heap, they win. In recent Korean situations of people being literally bullied to death, the perpetrators weren’t even remorseful in court when they were getting handed down sentences of years in prison. Neither suicide attempts nor the real thing will get you the attention and validation that you crave.
So that’s it, that’s how to deal with bullying and make your life bully-free. Now you can finally gain control over your own life, then you’re less likely to be crying like a little bitch whenever some people in some k-pop group have a disagreement over who’s turn it is to wash the dishes in the dorm that week as if it’s any of your fucking concern, and that’ll save us all some heartache. Thank me later, fuckheads.