The apparent suicide of a nurse at Seoul Asan Medical Center last Thursday has stirred up a frenzy on social media after the victim’s boyfriend blamed the hospital’s “taeum” culture for “driving the victim to her death.”
The hazing practice called “taeum,” which means to “burn to ashes” in Korean, is prevalent among nurses here. Senior nurses are given higher privileges, permitting them to bully junior nurses and especially new staff.
The bullying essentially involves excluding the victim from meals, spreading rumors to tarnish their reputation and “failing” to distribute critical work-related information.
The man, who claimed to be the victim’s boyfriend of two years, posted on social media Sunday that his late girlfriend had been suffering from severe stress and anxiety due to the “taeum” culture.
According to Songpa Police Station, the 30-year-old nurse, who had been working at the hospital for five years, was found dead last Thursday morning in a flowerbed outside the apartment.
Her family members claimed that she had experienced “constant neglect from superiors and was not provided with sufficient training and guidance.”
The hospital, however, claimed that it found no evidence of bullying among the nurses after conducting an internal investigation.
Police have not found a suicide note, even though the nurse’s death appears to have been self-inflicted.