Tuesday, April 17, 2007

the VA Tech shooter is KOREAN

[UPDATE 3 (top o' the page; other two updates are at the bottom): The killer's name is now being spelled as the more normal-sounding "조승희" on Naver news. The first Naver link I gave you has gone dead.]

The name of the VA Tech shooter is Cho Seung Hui (조성희 or 조승희; I don't know which at this moment,* but I'll check Korean sources when I'm back from my hike). He was a senior in the English department and was a permanent resident of the US. Cho apparently left some sort of note before his rampage.

I'm morbidly curious as to how the Korean media will be handling this. This is one of those times I wish I read Korean fluently. As things are, I'll have to wait until the Korean news is distilled by Korean-proficient bloggers.

Among bloggers, the political dimensions of this incident are already starting to play themselves out. Check out Markandeya for one liberal perspective here, and Annika for a conservative perspective. So now the question is whether the note Cho left behind gives some explanation for why he went on the killing spree. If there's a hint that his feelings were anti-American, that he was striking a blow against society... well, times will get interesting on both sides of the Pacific.

(With thanks to Mike for the email alerting me to this.)

UPDATE: The shooter's name is the strange-sounding 조승휘 (Jo Seung Hwee). I caught this off Naver.com news, here. NB: This is a "hot issue" link and will likely go dead in a day or so.

UPDATE 2: One friend already wrote to express anger at the Korean media's attempt (one source's attempt, anyway) to regard this incident through the lens of nationalism/race: Hopefully, This Will Not Lead to Racism. I agree with this friend that such a concern is selfish, given that the horrifying reality, the primary fact, is that thirty-two people were just murdered. If this becomes a racial and/or diplomatic issue, instead of an issue about a horrible crime committed by a single individual (who certainly does not represent most Koreans), that will be quite sad. It will mean that the event is already spinning out of control as far too many large issues get sucked into the media vortex. First things first: what are the facts? What was on the killer's note? Where was the killer during those crucial two hours before he slaughtered thirty more people after killing his first two?

At this point, it would seem the killer's motives were wider in scope than a mere "lover's tiff" can explain. I hope the authorities can piece something together and begin to make some sense out of this. Then, and only then, should people start making their sweeping pronouncements. Meanwhile, as I just wrote another friend: if there's a hell, I hope Cho is burning in it.

*Many Koreans tend to romanize the "aw" sound as "eu" these days, which drives me nuts. NB: As you see in the above update, the proper Korean spelling is 조승휘, which would be pronounced "Jo Seung Hwee."


1 comment:

Jelly said...

Hey K. Early yesterday morning when I first read about what happened I thought about you - knowing where you're from. What a tragic thing. (Not where you're from,...the shootings I mean.)
Today I was speaking with my co-worker about it. I'd read on your site the shooter had been Asian, and Jane told me "He was Chinese!" She told me there were about a thousand Korean students on campus, and that one had been injured in the arm. But it is pretty standard for a country to report if any of it's own were involved in an overseas incident, eh?