L.A. Korean leaders worry about fallout from Virginia Tech shooting

PETER PRENGAMAN – Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Leaders of the city’s burgeoning Korean immigrant community said Tuesday they were worried about fallout from the revelation that the Virginia Tech shooter who killed 32 people and himself was a South Korean immigrant.

Eun-Sook Lee, director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, a Los Angeles-based civil rights organization, said media reports focusing on the gunman’s nationality made it seem more than an isolated incident.

“On the radio, I don’t hear them saying he was a college student or just a disturbed kid,” said Lee. “They say he’s a South Korean national.”

Authorities on Tuesday identified the shooter as Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old senior majoring in English. He arrived in the United States as boy from South Korea in 1992 and was raised in suburban Washington, D.C., officials said.

Lee said her organization had received a half-dozen angry calls Tuesday, but no threats.

“We are getting calls from people yelling at us because we are Korean,” said Lee.

To combat any misrepresentation of Korean immigrants, and to show support for the families of the victims, Korean groups are trying to make sure many Koreans attend vigils and memorials for the killed students, said Lee.

No vigils or demonstrations were planned in Los Angeles’ vast Koreatown so far, but may happen in the next couple days, said Lee.

Nearly 200,000 Koreans live in Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Census, by far the largest grouping of America’s estimated 1.2 million Korean immigrants.

The shooting and the fact the gunman was from South Korea, was on the front page of Korean online newspapers Tuesday and the subject of Korean language radio talk and television shows.

Still, Koreans see it as an isolated incident that has nothing to do with the Korean community, said Cliff Lee, president of Young Koreans United of USA, a Los Angeles-based advocacy group for Korean-Americans.

“As a Korean in the U.S., I was very disappointed than another Korean was responsible for these murders,” said Lee. “We hope that the healing process can begin and that something like this never happens again.”


2 Responses to “L.A. Korean leaders worry about fallout from Virginia Tech shooting”

  1. ExpatJane Says:

    Okay, Korean groups got a few calls from a few nutballs regarding the shootings. I hope and I’m pretty confident that will be the extent of the fallout.

    One big reason they’re terrified is because if it were the other way around, I know that foreigners would not be safe in Korea. I think the ROK drop blog says it well:

    “Sorry this is not Korea where a traffic accident led to assaults on Americans and foreigners on the streets, anti-US hate signs on doors and windows, as well as stabbings and kidnapping of US soldiers with the added addition of being paraded around on national television with no Koreans ever being held accountable for these crimes. When this happens to Koreans in America then we can start talking about racism in the US”

    What made it worse was during that same period the 2002 World Cup hosted by South Korea and Japan was on. I specifically remember that North Korea fired on a South Korean vessel at sea and killed quite a few South Korean sailors.

    “A violent skirmish between the Koreas navies on the Yellow Sea leaves at least four South Korean sailors dead and at least 19 others injured. An estimated 13 North Korean sailors are killed when the South returns fire.”

    Where were the spirited protests over North Korea? That was most definitely intentional, but I saw nothing more than a murmur of sorrow from the public over those four dead sailors.

    I doubt that anything or any backlash will happen. There will not be roving packs of livid native born Americans (of which there are many Koreans) out to burn down Koreatown.

    I’m completely dumbfounded that Koreans really thought that Americans would turn en masse on them. However, I know I shouldn’t be because that’s exactly what Koreans did in 2002. Believe it or not, but Americans with all of our faults, do understand that Cho, while clearly disturbed, made a choice.

  2. V.E.G. Says:

    Our family friend was a Korean. He speaks perfect Greek.

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