Korean sense of shame is unjustified


Korean sense of shame is unjustified


<b>Feeling guilty for sharing the Virginia Tech gunman&#39;s ethnicity will do more harm than good</b>

By Lina Chung
Friday, April 20, 2007

After Monday&#39;s Virginia Tech tragedy, shock reverberated among the Korean American community - the shooter, 23-year-old student Cho Seung-Hui, was a man of South Korean nationality.

But, in an attempt to avert racial backlash, members of the community have only victimized themselves by allowing Cho&#39;s nationality to spark a collective sense of guilt and responsibility.

"All Koreans in South Korea - as well as here - must bow their heads and apologize to the people of America," said the Rev. Dong Sun Lim, founder of the Oriental Mission Church in Koreatown, according to the Los Angeles Times.

As a Korean American student, I sensed my parents&#39; fear of racial backlash when they called me Tuesday night. Worried about the media frenzy surrounding Monday&#39;s tragedy, they suggested I come home for the week until the situation calmed down.

I was initially baffled at my parents&#39; concerns. But the following day, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times published articles reflecting this fear among South Korean parents across the U.S.

And racial epithets against South Koreans were also flooding the Internet. Blog posts on sites such as Facebook and Sepia Mutiny (a blog site created by South Asians) attacked and pigeonholed South Koreans as violent, destructive people.

"Koreans are the most hotheaded and macho of East Asians," said a Sepia Mutiny commentator.

"Take that shit back to your own nation," said a Facebook user, according to an MSNBC article.

Other Korean American UCLA students also observed a rise in concern among their parents.

First-year business economics student Janice No, whose parents live in Virginia, expressed how her parents felt a heightened sense of uneasiness regarding Monday&#39;s massacre.

"My family was concerned for my safety as a general university student," she said. "But the fact the shooter was Korean only increased their worrying."

Even the South Korean foreign ministry issued a statement earlier this week that it hoped the tragedy and Cho&#39;s South Korean nationality wouldn&#39;t incite "racial prejudice or confrontation."

Although events in the past few years - such as the 1992 L.A. riots, in which Korean-owned businesses were targeted and looted - have burned a harsh memory within the Korean American community in Los Angeles, we must acknowledge that Cho&#39;s actions were in no way a reflection on South Koreans as a whole.

"Korean American students have assimilated more to American culture and don&#39;t feel threatened by the situation. We understand the gunman had personal problems that caused his attack and that it could&#39;ve been someone from any race," said second-year aerospace engineering student and L.A. resident Anthony Suh, who says his parents&#39; concerns stemmed from their experience with the L.A. riots.

In regards to UCLA, some students feel secure that no danger or harm will arise due to their racial identities as Korean Americans.

"There&#39;s such a big Korean community at UCLA, so I don&#39;t feel threatened," third-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student Yoonah Lee said. "But the fact (the gunman) was Korean just makes me more aware of the situation."

Awareness may be justified, but openly acknowledging a sense of responsibility for having a shared ethnicity with Cho is not the right approach; it will only allow for stereotypes and more negativity to ensue.

By choosing to walk in shame, we allow ourselves to be targeted. By choosing to hide, we allow ourselves to be hunted.

Now is not the time for pointing fingers or living in fear. In the wake of such a horrible tragedy, our only collective responsibility - no matter what our ethnicity may be - is to offer support and sympathy to the Virginia Tech victims and their families in this time of need.


Original Source: <a href=http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/2007/apr/20/ikorean_sense_shame_unjustifiedi/>The Daily Bruin - April 20, 2007</a>


Lina Chung


The Daily Bruin




Sara Hood


Saba Riazati <editor@media.ucla.edu>






Lina Chung , “Korean sense of shame is unjustified,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 14, 2024, https://april16archive.org/items/show/732.