Thursday, April 19, 2007

More apologies for Cho Seung Hui

Incidentally, 'Seung' has the vowel sound of the word 'foot' and 'hui' is pronounced 'he'.
Yesterday a student apologized to me from the bottom of his heart and said that the Korean government should compensate the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre's families. I started the morning with another heartfelt apology from one of my other students. Interesting that both are older men, although the sentiment seems to be ubiquitous.

I don't want to suffer the fate of David Sedaris, so I'll just say up front that the following story, a complete work of fiction, is completely 100% true.

Sally Cho was in shock to discover that the perpetrator of the deadliest shooting in American history was a Korean, and not only a Korean, but one that shared her last name and initials, S. Cho. When she heard the news she was floored, and spent the evening worrying what her schoolmates would say. "You're a crazy maladjusted foreigner" sprang to mind. She clutched her stomach in pain. Her parents had been fielding frantic telephone calls from Korea for the past hour. "We just heard the news. Are you safe? Is there a palpable sense of menace?" The family was in an uproar. Then she realized that her friend Choi Sung-hui must be doing even worse, his name almost the same as the killer's. It was a tense night at the Cho residence. A church leader called to say that Saturday's Korean language class was canceled.
The next morning before school Sally's stomach was in knots. As she waited for the bus she thought up a million nightmare scenarios. A circle of children pointing accusatory fingers at her. Her cousin Sunny getting her green card revoked. The teacher singling her out to talk about the event. It was driving her mad in homeroom, but nobody said anything. Too polite, she guessed. It was like that all day. She wished the feeling would go away and someone would say what everyone was thinking. Sally is a Korean, just like that mass murderer in Virginia. Eventually she felt that the wall of silence would never fall unless she brought it down herself, confronted it head on. In eighth period AP History class, the Rockville High School version of NPR's Talk of the Nation, Mr. Pope initiated a discussion about what had happened at Virginia tech. He asked the class how they felt about gun control, about problems fitting in and academic pressure. Sally was desperately looking for a way to bring up her Korean ancestry, get it out in the open where, under the tempering influence of Mr. Pope, perhaps convince her classmates not to believe all Koreans were like that. "My parents are from Korea and all the Korean Americans that I know were really shocked and sorry about what happened."
A voice from the back of the class said "Nobody cares."

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