Free classroom chairs photo

For weeks, a young South Korean teacher was bombarded with texts and calls from parents irate at how their child had been treated. Then she was found dead in her classroom.

The suicide of the 23-year-old woman, in just her second year of teaching, has triggered an outpouring of grief and rage and set off widespread protests, including a rare strike, as teachers push back against what they call untenable working conditions.

For decades, physical abuse by teachers was tacitly tolerated in South Korean schools, experts say. But in the early 2000s the country launched a major drive to stamp it out, culminating in sweeping 2014 legislation on child abuse.

This, teachers now say, has caused the pendulum to swing too far the other way.

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