Some thoughts on the VT killings
Several people have asked me how I feel about the killings as a Korean.
I find the question quite irritating, because it seems to imply that the shooter's nationality had something to do with his diabolical rampage which claimed the lives of 32 innocent people, and I as a Korean have some insight into the mind of the murderer just because of the Korean ethnicity (not to mention the surname) the killer and I happen to share.
"How come nobody ever asks me about Jeffrey Dahmer and his appetite for human flesh even though he was white like me?" quipped my friend.
Dude, was that the best illustration you could come up with over dinner?
My Korean relatives are asking what it is about American culture that turned a normal looking Korean kid into a murderous killer? I find that question equally absurd as well, but somewhat understandable given America's culture of violence broadcast around the world. Columbine and Virgina Tech do not happen every day, I had to remind them. Besides, by all accounts the kid's troubles started long before he and his family moved to the United States.
But the killer's nationality could not escape my notice, I must admit. Oh no, another Columbine, I thought to myself upon learning of the killing spree while getting ready to go to work. But the initial reaction of mild sadness turned to utter disbelief and shock when the authorities disclosed his Korean nationality. Since then, I have obsessively read every news story I could get my hands on concerning the shooter which would not have been the case had he not been Korean.
So even though I find the questions arising from his ethnicity annoying, I myself cannot simply ignore that fact. It hit too close to home. And perhaps now is the time for Korean Americans to discuss and reflect on their insane drive for and obsession with academic achievement and materialistic success which I believe is just one of many serious cultural issues.
Although this comes as no consolation to the VT community, I was relieved that Cho's "manifesto," as incoherent and deplorable as it was, did not contain racial diatribes. That would have been the last thing the nation needed just a week after the Imus non-sense, and the killer's racial tirade would have added a whole new painful twist to the tragedy which we could do without.
According to my sister's acquaintance with close ties to the Korean Consulate, the Korean government mulled over a statement of apology to the American people, but the United States declined to accept it insisting that the killer's nationality had nothing to do with the tragic massacre. I thought that was a very nice gesture of goodwill from both sides.
Government leaders taking the high road - what a concept.
Last Friday, a truck hit a light pole in front of the office building and ran. A cop came to us and quizzed those who saw the whole thing unfold right in front of their eyes. The driver apparently got off the truck, and even asked for directions before hopping back on the road, which allowed the witnesses a very good look at him.
After the cop left the building, I whispered to the receptionist, "If the officer comes back and looks for a guy named Cho, I'm not here, OK?"
The receptionist is a very polished and prim young woman. But her loud laugh and snort shook the building and stunned everyone in the office. Her face turned beet red as she struggled to compose herself before answering the next phone call.
Never did I imagine this was how my surname would become a household name in America.
God bless America. God bless Virgina Tech. Go Hokies!