Revealed to be taken mid-day in a relatively metropolitan area in Korea’s Goyang city, a viral video capturing some middle school students playing a dangerous “game” has since outraged Koreans online.
The video, later shared to an open chatroom by the anonymous witness, starts off with one male student choked around by the arm of another male student. As the student in headlock struggles for air, another female student approaches and inappropriately touches the male student.
About 10-11 seconds into the video, the student in headlock drops unconscious as the male student choking him releases him to crash to the ground. The anonymous witness recording the video exclaims in shock as the group of students continue to stand around and stare at the one who passed out.
According to the Ilsan Dongbu Police Station, the witness reported the incident around 4:50PM KST. Some police officers got dispatched to check out the situation — though the case eventually got dismissed and the station opted not to launch a full investigation. An officer at the Ilsan Dongbu Police Station revealed, “The victim confirmed that he and his friends were playing ‘the choking game’ and that he was not getting bullied.” It has been reported that the student’s parent(s) also chose not to pursue any action.
Only after receiving a significant amount of public backlash for being too lenient with delinquent students, the Ilsan Dongbu Police Station stated that it is “still looking into what exactly happened and working on resolving the issue.”
The “choking game” is, as the name suggests, intentional temporary asphyxiation. The “game” has been around for years and never fails to take the younger generation by storm — not only in Korea, but around the world.
It’s been known by different names —“Pass-Out Challenge,” “Flatliner,” “Space Monkey” — but the goal has remained the same: get high through temporary asphyxiation. While some may draw a connection between the Choking Game and autoerotic asphyxiation, a sexual act involving the deprivation of oxygen to stimulate arousal, experts believe that in the case of these children, it’s more about seeking a sense of euphoria.
The game is based on the idea that, if stopped soon enough, it leaves no lasting damage, but that’s often not the case. Brain cells begin dying within minutes of blood and oxygen deprivation, and if the carotid arteries in the neck are compressed by a rope or a belt, it can lead to irreversible brain damage after five minutes, says Dr. Katherine Thomas, who chairs the department of neurology at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City. “If you’re going to do it repeatedly, and you reach the point of having actual permanent cell death, then that could be addictive,” she says.
Koreans are heavily criticizing the fact that the police dismissed the case so soon — regardless of whether the group of students had been actually bullying or simply fooling around. The video has since sparked an intense discussion about the South Korean chokbeop law, built around the idea of protecting the “juvenile delinquents” under 14.
- “What has this world come to? I don’t understand… It’s devastating that there is no adult to stop those kids, no law to punish them either.”
- “What the… What is wrong with them?!”
- “Can Korea PLEASE stop protecting these delinquent kids with the damn law?”
- “That’s not a game. We, as a society, have come to an agreement to call this behavior BULLYING. They’re ganging up on him, choking him, harassing him — physically and sexually. If those kids can play the same game with their families, I’ll accept that it’s only a game. Police and their excuses…”
- “Kids know better these days. They know how to use the chokbeop law to their advantage, the loopholes in the law. So can we please amend that law? Look at how serious the level of their games has gotten. 14 is old enough to know right from wrong, there is no reason for us to protect them from their own decisions.”
- “This is so f*cked, wow. I can’t believe they’ll probably walk away from this again because they’re too young or whatever.”