South Koreans read newspapers on the Virginia Tech shooting massacre in Blacksburg, Va., today at Kimpo Airport in Seoul. South Korea expressed shock yesterday after learning the shooting suspect was a South Korean native, and said it hoped the tragedy would not incite racial hatred.
Reaction to shooting worries Koreans
The local community worries after the Virginia Tech shooter is identified as Korean
Pastors in Hawaii's Korean community said the violence at Virginia Tech by a South Korean immigrant is a concern for people of all ethnic groups whose members may feel isolated or marginalized in American society.
"It is a time of anxiety for local Korean immigrants and youth in church," said the Rev. Eun Chul Lee, pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Makiki, where 800 people attend Korean-language Sunday services. "I worry about any prejudice toward Asians or Koreans or any immigrants and how it may affect them."
"I don't want to see this as an ethnic issue," said the Rev. Woong Min Kim, superintendent of the United Methodist Church in Hawaii who leads the 7,000 Methodists, about 1,700 of whom are Korean. "If the society zooms in on one specific group of the society, I think it is wrong. We have so many incidents like this ... every culture, every ethnic group can have the same incident."
Kim said, "You might notice that the Korean culture is a very competitive culture, especially in education. We have many success stories in education. However, many times it is at the sacrifice of a balanced personality. Basic human values like generosity, charity are overshadowed by the need for success. The church emphasis in family or youth programs is to bring up a wholesome, balanced personality."
Lee said the early morning prayer group at Christ United Methodist Church in Makiki yesterday added the Virginia Tech shooting victims and their grieving families to their prayers.
Lee said the incident raises the awareness that "we need to counsel young people."
"There could be another similar tragedy because the young people have resistance or agony or anger toward other people because of their isolation, their cultural difference," he said. "We have programs to educate young people to assimilate to Western culture, so they can express their opinion and attitude freely in positive, productive ways."
Kim said that when he heard the shooter identified as Korean, "I almost felt I should apologize." Rather than identifying him by his race, "I think it is an individual who has some medical problems in the psychiatric area. I am really sorry for what happened."