Youngbean Kim, ’18 / Chanho Kim, ’19
A group of seniors calmly walk down the path towards the school dumpster at the corner of the field. Behind the dumpster, the exchange occurs; an attempt of hungry students to satisfy their regular need for outside food. Excited, they hurry back up to the dorm with their plunder. Five minutes later, an announcement blares throughout the dorm, calling the names of the students who had just smuggled in fried chicken.
Last year, Mr. Song Ki Taek of the Student Life Affairs had sat us down for a status report at the auditorium: Among the Big Five Ban of HAFS life (which includes smoking, drinking, PDA and bullying) the most frequently broken rule is the “No outside food” policy. This prevents fried chicken, pizza, cake, etc. from being brought into or delivered to school, most likely for safety reasons. 2016 was also the year that the ADT took charge of campus security.
Stories and rumors of hardcore surveillance circulated among the students when the ADT first came; from “They hide out in cars in the parking lot to catch you receive delivery food there.” to “I heard that they chased students down with a motorcycle.”
“No, we do not hide in cars or do any stakeouts.” ADT Chief Yun Seong Chan debunked this rumor with a laugh during an interview with HAFS Harbinger last December. Mr. Kim Jae Hyuk, another member of the ADT, added, ”We added eight more security cameras this year, so we just track those down.” Indeed, the method of getting delivery food through the fence (money goes through the fence, chicken goes up and over) was rendered obsolete by the rotating surveillance cameras in the field along with an LED light board that shines specifically towards the corner of the dumpster. The walls of the small ADT office located at the entrance is covered with big monitors showing live security camera footages, and there seemed to be nearly 200 camera screens overall.
While the ADT are diligent in their work to the point where it scares some students, they were surprisingly affectionate towards the students. HAFS Harbinger was shocked to hear Chief Yun say that that the students are more kind and well-behaved than he expected. He had worked only in apartment complexes prior to his current job and had much worries for keeping more than a thousand students under control. And Mr. Kim expressed regret at not being able to be closer to the student because of the cutthroat image they acquired by following what the school tells them to do. “We don’t have any authority to actually punish students. Our job is to catch them in the act and hand them over to the Student Life Affairs to take care of the rest.”
The ADT did have a few blacklisted student couples who were closely watched, especially right after nighttime self studies. The HAFS Love Road behind the buildings where couples used to take walks is now rarely used due to construction and CCTVs, and now many couples choose to take walks up the hill. “We see these duos of students together and we have to zoom in on some to make sure that there is no PDA, like the school rule says.”
Interestingly, Mr. Song Ki Taek himself seems to regard the rule against PDA as outdated. “I personally think it’s too tight. Being honest, I’d like to overlook moments of intimacy shared by student couples with a smile, but then I am the head of Student Life Affairs.” And he added that these were the rules set before he became the head teacher and that an update is needed, thought it would be somewhat complicated. Meanwhile, the school principal previously stated his firm stance against student dating.
The most frequently broken rule, according to the ADT, was the policy on students going out. The school has a closer watch on the students who break their time, and the ADT still caught innumerable numbers of students for it, returning hundreds of students to the dorm to renew their passes. There are five members of the ADT and each of them had caught at least ten food deliveries last year. Just as Mr. Go Jae Won from the Student Life Affairs said in another interview, the ADT were also unavailable for any comments on the specific cases or anecdotes on students breaking rules.
Surprisingly, the parents of students along with having to turn off the lights in the building are what makes things the hardest for the ADT. “The students are alright, but some parents…” Chief Yun trailed off and hesitated for a moment until Mr. Kim added, “Trying to park wherever they want, trying to go inside the building when they’re not allowed to… And some raise their voice and say some unspeakable words yet we can’t do anything since there isn’t a school rule for the parents.” And as he said this a car stopped outside the ADT office at the entrance and demanded to be able to go uphill to the dorm.
Harbinger recently revisited the ADT office for some pictures along with updates on the interview. When asked how things were compared to last year, the members replied with a smirk, “Oh, things are way out of control this year.” And they added that outsiders trying to come into the school territory (mostly due to the need to turn their car around) was a bigger concern in the weekends.
For the students, the ADT had one thing to say: “We would like to let them know that it’s not our main job to punish them. We don’t really mind much about what the students do as long as they keep the basic, set rules. Going in and out of school on time, not ordering delivery food, the works. So just do that and we can be in good terms.”