US-style university hazing has caused a storm in South Korea after a photo showing new students being doused with alcohol went viral.
According to the Korea Herald, “A group of students were shown lined up with hands politely clasped in front while an older-looking student poured makgeolli, milky fermented alcohol, over their bowed heads.”
It said that the drink appear to contained bits of “unidentifiable filth”.
A spokesperson for Dong-a University, based in the southern city of Busan, told the newspaper that the initiation was administered by a football club in the university’s chemical engineering department earlier this month.
It imitated a Korean folk ritual that wards off bad luck and evil spirits, they said.
The university has vowed to investigate the entire department and to punish those responsible.
A photo of the initiation emerged on Facebook, with the poster, who said he was the brother of one of those being initiated, asking whether the ritual was acceptable, reported the Korea Times.
The incident drew a critical reaction online.
“We’re in the 21st century, which should not tolerate things like this,” one student wrote, according to the paper. “Look at the students. They’re all looking down as if they were prison inmates. Do you believe that the students agreed to do this? I don’t believe so.”
“I am not proud of my school at all. I wasn’t aware this was happening at my school. I think this should be abolished,” another wrote.
The newspaper reported that such hazing is not uncommon in the country, and that last week a new student at another university had died drinking during a welcoming party with more senior students.