Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cho Seung Hui

This is how it unfolded for me. Yesterday morning in class, a student came in and told me he saw the shooting incident on the news. At this time. there was no information.

After I got home I turned on the news immediately, because my student said it was the biggest shooting in US history. At that time they were announcing that it was an Asian student.

As I was watching with my son, they showed the name on the bottom of the screen...Cho Seung Hui. I said "oh my...that's a Korean name." I told my son.

Cho is the last name. Korean Americans often times rearrange their names American style and use a more common first name. Example: Julie Cho. Even if they retain an Asian first name, they will rearrange, i.e. Song Cho.

His name starting with Cho made me believe that this student was actually from South Korea and was studying abroad there at V-Tech.


Then I said to my son, I wonder how long he's been in the US.

Because in South Korea, they don't have guns. They are outlawed. It's not part of their culture, and often when students ask me questions about the US they ask me about the 'gun culture'. I report to them that even with a 'gun culture' in the US as it's called, I personally have never seen a gun (that I can remember).

It was puzzling to me that a student would study abroad and develop an immidiate and deep interest in guns. The reporters were announcing that he used a glock and was skilled. The nature of these shots were disturbing, each victim shot at least three times and some students said he just shot people point blank in the head execution style.

So, it kind of made sense when the news unfolded revealing that he actually moved to the US when he was 8 years old. He's very American. He's not a citizen technically, but a legal alien resident. I'm guessing from his name that his family has kept his heritage strong, and maybe their house is very Korean- language intact, customs, food. It's just conjecture on my part of course at this stage, but this is what I expect to learn.

I knew that South Korea would be horrified. I knew that going to work the next day would be interesting, if they've seen the news. They really do act as a cohesive group. I say "they" because they say 'they'. They lump people together into races and categories as general practice, and definitely hold the crimes of one person against their entire particular race or heritage. I have had several people tell me, "black people look like criminals to me"

So I know what they expect. They expect for the US to hold this against their entire population.

This morning I woke up early to turn on the news. I never turn the tv on in the morning. Before work I watched coverage of the victim's lives and families. I couldn't help but feel something. While showering I felt deep sadness for the gunman's parents.

At this stage that might be a controversial statement, but I'm serious, and I stand by it. The victims died innocently. But the Chos lost their son to suicide and the fact that he murdered 32 innocent people. There is no crime they could have comitted against their son that would warrant that kind of behavior. Sodomized kids don't act so badly. There just isn't an explanation or excuse. So, yes. their pain might be greater than all others.

I walked into my class room this morning and I erased everything off my whiteboard, which I usually don't do. I even erased something that has been written on the board for months. I erased everything. I wrote in the center, not too big...

Cho Seung Hui

I had to go out and check my schedule and prepare for staff photo taking. Mr. Moon, one of my bosses was behind a tripod and camera coaxing me, "Come on, smile...give me big American smile." It was hard, I felt quite solemn. (He hadn't heard yet, he thought some Chinese dude did it.)

Later when I entered class, there were students in there waiting for me. Two of my favorite students had serious yet warm looks on their faces. I said, "good morning..", they said "We're sorry." It actually took me a second. "OH!...yeah..."
I just smiled "you guys are so cute, so nice- apologizing for that..." I said in a nevermind kind of way. It bothers me that they are apologizing. I really like these guys. One of them is visiting the US after this place, and his face had gone completely pale from dread. He's going to San Diego. I told him, don't sweat it. It won't be a problem.

I turned around and one of my other favorite students, "Brown" appeared in the doorway- he was due to attend a class down the hall at that time. Brown is a senstive kind of chunky guy that reminds me of Sam from Lord of the Rings, but the students call him Frodo. We looked at each other. He held up a finger gun and pretended to shoot me "Pop pop pop." I burst out laughing and tackled him in the hallway. "I love you Brown!"

I have three more classes today.
Tomorrow I will erase Cho Seung Hui and I will write...

You are individuals.

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