Thursday, April 19, 2007

My two cents on Cho, Seung-Hui and the VTech rampage

I have been watching the news since the incident and it seems that the foreign press has picked up on the apparent Korean collective shame (along with shock, dismay, paranoia and a host of other really neat adjectives) regarding the incident. In particular, I am personally dismayed at this seeming shame shared by the Korean psyche. Perhaps the problem is that I am not Korean so I cannot possibly understand the true feelings of the Korean collective. I grew up in the culture that truly created this monster and the one that bears the real shame for this tragedy: The culture of guns and violence that lives on the fringe of every suburban or rural hamlet across America. Cho was a apparently a fringe individual; a ghost in the hallways and invisible to most until it was too late. The system tried to reel him in but they were too little too late apparently; so much for hindsight.

Some of the media have discussed the Korean cultural aversion to mental health issues as a potential catalyst in this disastrous event. I have long been a proponent of the need for this country to take a good hard look at attitudes toward psychotherapy and counselling and this event certainly does not change my mind on that issue. The fact that the killers parents were raised in this environment certainly seems to suggest that they probably would not have approved his mandated need for counseling. So far, I have heard little about his parents except that they took the family from Seoul to the US many years ago to make a better life for their kids. Their story seems typical of the thousands of families that have done the same over the years since then and apparently those other families have not produced such killers. So how can we blame the Korean cultural ideology that seems to have produced a healthy percentage of the finest students in the United States simply because of one bad seed.

So I would like to offer a hearty dose of absolution for Koreans who feel shamed by this incident and those who feel that it may reflect badly upon Koreans in general. This feeling my seem justified under the circumstances. Paranoia of racial reprisal is a real threat in certain parts of the US and I can sympathize with those who feel they want to bring their children back to the relatively gunless shores of the ROK. But best way to view this is perhaps a healthy dose of denial. To me, Cho, Seung-Hui was NOT Korean; not any more than the Columbine killers were. Because this is not about race, this is about violence, guns, alienation and an additional failure of the system to act on a problem that was recognized long ago.

1 comment:

Jon Allen said...

very well said.
That summarised my feelings on the matter too.