Movie: Silenced

Silenced (2011) is a Korean movie, based on the novel "The Crucible" by Gong Ji-young, which is based on real-life events. While finding information about the movie, "The silent forest", which I have written a review about in my previous blog post, I saw a lot of people mention the movie, Silenced. It is a movie with a similar setting, but instead of from the point of view of the students, you see things through the eyes of a righteous teacher. 

Before watching, I have to warn you that the abuse scenes are pretty graphic. Especially, the shrieking sounds of the victims and the creepy expressions on the perpetrator's faces are really horrible. I can understand why the actors, playing the creeps, could get harrassed in real-life by those, who have seen this movie. 

The story can be roughly divided into three parts: the dirt that becomes uncovered bit by bit, the court room, and closure. Watching this movie really made me realize what adulting really means. I can now somewhat understand why people looked away, why they covered things up, and why they can keep doing such awful things for so long without anyone stopping it. 

There were so many similarities that I almost thought it was based on my life (this shows again how common this is everywhere in the world and how it still happens). I regularly got beaten up badly and my head was constantly held under the running faucet in kindergarten, almost drowning me, so that I could "cool down and behave". My strange behavior of fighting for my life first, before they can hurt me (an aftereffect of my mom taking me to so called wonder doctors and ignorant relatives, who did more harm than good), was misunderstood as behavioral problems that needed to be corrected with more violence. I was angry at the female teacher who held my arms, so that the other female teacher could punch me in the stomach without me being able to defend myself, but I hated the kids who just watched and did nothing, when the teachers took me somewhere else, away from the group, with the excuse of me needing some "alone time", more. One girl actually accidentally watched what happened during one of my "alone times" with the teachers, but she just laughed (haha, crazy girl getting what she deserves) and kept quiet, refusing to be a witness for me. I still remember it to this day.

For a long time, I thought that all the perverts were only targeting me, because of my very visible disability and the lack of support from family and friends. But I have come to understand that it happens to everyone, the young and the old, the rich and the poor, and even the privileged, white girl with blond hair and blue eyes. The toilet scene actually happened to me. After fighting off a pervert teacher, I ran and locked myself in a toilet cabin. I was freaked out and I was crying loudly. The teacher was all quiet and stood behind the door, waiting for me to get out and probably thinking of ways to get to me (like taking the screws off the door, climbing from the stall next door, etc.). I checked the time on my watch and it was 3 'o clock. School was over for most students of the school. I almost gave up hope, when four of my classmates, who I was the closest with, walked into the girl's toilet room. The male teacher explained that he was just concerned about me and wondered why I was crying so hard (entering a girl's toilet room alone and not asking a female teacher for help? not talking to me at all?). Because I smiled brightly due to the absurdity of the situation (why them and not some random strangers? how did they find me? why were they there at that exact time and place?) and relief of being saved, my story was questioned, but I didn't even care if I wasn't believed again for the thousandth time, all that mattered was that I could get out. 

I actually testified in court too as a little kid. I almost experienced the whole thing, just like in the movie. First, I had to jump hundreds of hurdles, before I could take the case to court. Because of my nystagmus, my eye sight and my ability to identify people's faces and names was tested. Against all odds, I passed the tests. Just like in the movie, I got disappointed by the lack of punishment (I heard the abuser say that it was a bargain, just a few bucks per harrassment), the patriarchy (the boys covering up for boys and lack of respect for women and victims of abuse), and how victims, who are already damaged, are treated, compared to the accused. It is hard to accept that after all those years, nothing has changed. I was one of the first victims that spoke (yelled!) out my side of the story and how everything has affected me, when it wasn't allowed, risking contempt of court (my own lawyer tried to stop me). After that emotional ordeal, I felt desilusioned. It made me question why I had to do that and what use it had. But I found out afterwards, that it is possible for victims to read out a victim's statement in court now. I am not trying to take credit, but something so small and meaningless to most people, created a butterfly effect (small change lead to big results). Me yelling, getting angry, kicking, and getting dragged out of court, did make a difference. Although the victim's statement holds no actual value in court, it does mean a lot for the victim. It used to be just the accused lying, denying, insulting and discrediting the victims, without a possibility for the victim to say something back and talk about things that were seen as irrelevant to the case. 

There were many moments in my life that I wanted to find closure just like the boy in the movie. When the whole world fails you, there is nothing you can do but take things in your own hands. There were many moments, where I hoped that people would tell the truth, help me, and stand at my side. I pleaded with them that I would do my best at school, that I would become someone that would hire them when they lose their job over helping me, and that I would hire bodyguards to protect them from repercussions. But I needed to be able to do that for them then, not in the unforeseeable future. 

Finally, I want to share a quote from this movie: "It is not about us changing the world, but not letting the world change us." People are bound to experience a lot of disappointments, unhappiness, suffering, and bad luck in life, but we still need to try to not let it define and discourage us. I used to tell myself that I was a Phoenix, who would rise from the ashes. I started anew every day, trying to forget and move on. I did not understand the reason for my sufferings and when you are hurting, you become grumpy and don't want others to be happy. It is like a negative spiral that you cannot get out of. Only when the harrassment and pain lessened, did I see the empathy and acceptance that I have for people that are different and in a bad situation. A quote from another Korean movie, Parasite, comes to mind: "It is easy to be nice, when you are rich." Being rich can be in different kinds of measurements, besides money. I think that we would all be better people, if our basic needs are met. "With power, comes great responsibility. (Spiderman)" Too much power and money can also make us corrupt. Life isn't black and white. You are not either good or bad. We can only try our hardest to find the balance, to do the right thing and not harm others. The best closure might be to be happy (eat your favorite cake, decorate the Christmas tree, and spending time with loved ones). 

On a lighter note: I think that one of the little girls is Verona from the Korean hit drama series, The Penthouse: War in Life. I recognize her smile. 

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