Seoul “shocked” by Virginia massacre, fears for Koreans in the Usa
Seoul (AsiaNews) – South Korea is feeling from the Virginia Tech massacre carried out two days ago by a Korean student. The Seoul government has sent its condolences to the families and to all America urging calm, but now fears violent reprisals against the Korean community resident in the United States.
South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun says he is "indescribably shocked" after the perpetrator of the deadliest school shooting in US history was identified as a Korean citizen. Roh, in his second statement issued on the crime, says: “South Korean people express their deep condolences to the bereaved families, US President George W Bush and all Americans”.
The South Korean community resident in the United States had a similar reaction. From all corners of the countries there was unanimous condemnation of the “horrifying” act carried out by Cho Seung-hui, 23 years old, who killed 33 students for reasons as yet unknown. Cho was resident on campus and a fourth year student at the Virginia Tech English faculty.
Some of his university companions describe him as a normal student who had become “a little violent recently” while his family, tracked down by Korean papers, have so far refused to comment on the event.
Recalling the nightmare of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Koreans in the U.S. worried about retaliation from other ethnic groups. Some are considering leaving the U.S.
A Korean sophomore at Virginia Tech said “I was horrified to hear that the shooter was a Korean man. Until yesterday, they said it was an Asian. Korean students have started to feel threatened” (there are 450 Koreans on campus). Another Korean student at the Blacksburg University said “After the news of the tragedy the Korean students stayed in their dorm rooms and now are afraid to go out, they fear for their future”.
Kwak Dong-hoon, of Saint Paul in Minnesota, said he asked his children to “keep safe out of concern of possible ethnic conflict.” Kim Joon-yeop of Bloomington, Indiana, said “the incident will have serious repercussions for Koreans in America”.
Even the Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Lee Tae-sheik said he was shocked to learn that a Korean committed “such a dreadful act.” He pledged to do his utmost to come up with an effective response. The Korean Embassy formed a taskforce and sent a consul to Virginia to “discover the damage to Korean students who live there”.
Yesterday there was a memorial service on campus for the victims of the tragedy. Over 30 thousand people were present, among them President Bush, who ordered flags flown at half mast for the rest of the week in a sign of national mourning.