Two years ago, schoolboy Park Chul-soo (not his real name) died after jumping from his family's 18th-floor apartment. A suicide letter recently made public by his father revealed that the 15-year-old had been a long-standing victim of school bullies. In the note, he apologised to his parents for stealing money from them to pay off his bullies and pledged to haunt his tormentors. The case illustrated the most devastating consequences of school bullying which, according to authorities in South Korea, has reached extremes equalling almost anything found in organised crime rackets. The internet has spawned a new network of school gangs which are more organised, embrace ever-younger students and are arguably more brutal than the traditional school bully and his acolytes. According to one researcher, Jeong Se-young, this network numbers about 400,000 student members nationwide and has been accused of activities ranging from physical violence, to extortion and rape. 'They share lewd material on the internet and commit gang rapes to strengthen the solidarity of members. It is a way of confirming their loyalty to the group,' Kang Dae-il, an investigator at the National Police Agency, told South Korea's Yonhap news agency. Apart from the more pedestrian cases - such as that of the 16-year-old schoolboy from the southern province of Jolla who, along with two friends, was arrested last month for attacking peers with an iron bar - there are those such as the schoolchildren forced by older pupils to run a hot-potato stall into the small hours to provide a source of income. In the face of increased media attention and widespread public alarm, the government has launched a co-ordinated crackdown. This week, as part of a pilot project, and for the first time ever, police were introduced into schools, while the Ministry of Justice is proposing to send bullies to military-style boot camps. The government, with the police, has just ended a two-month amnesty under which gang members were given the chance to turn themselves in and report on fellow members, in return for leniency. But how many teenagers would voluntarily implicate friends and admit to serious wrongdoing? And where are these children picking up their values in the first place? Without a consideration of the causes of school violence, including the exercise and all-too-frequent abuse of power in wider South Korean society, the authorities' response runs the risk of becoming mere window dressing.