There was more news today on Cho Seung-Hui despite the fact that over 150 people were killed in attacks in Baghdad and the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold bans on late-term “partial birth” abortion. No, it seems that sensationalising the actions of a mentally-ill Korean, which appears to be what Cho wanted when he went on his killing spree, is what the American networks decide to devote their air time to.
Recently, NBC received a package from Cho containing a long profanity-laced essay and a cryptic video with the following message:
You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today… but you decided to spill my blood.
You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option.
The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.
You just love to crucify me. You loved inducing cancer in my head, terrors in my heart and ripping my soul all this time.
I didn’t have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled.
But now I will no longer run. It’s not for me, for my children, for my brothers and sisters, the (bleeped). I did it for them.
The international response from South Korea has been interesting since the government felt the need to apologise for the actions of Cho because he was a ROK national. On another level, it appears that the South Korean President apologised to the Americans for fear of a negative backlash against Koreans and from some cultural obligation to be responsible for the success and problems of notable Koreans. According to news reports, Korean international students in Virginia Tech and other universities have decided to stick together in groups whenever the travel for fear of racially motivated reprisals. This doesn’t seem surprising since news networks such as Fox News and CNN have felt the need to emphasise the killer’s “Koreaness” and even framed this tragedy as an Asian Immigrant versus America issue.
With that being said, here is how the Hong Kong tabloid “Apple Daily” described the massacre using visual dramatisations:
This gruesome dramatisation shows Cho getting into an argument with the girl before killing her and the RA who intervened. The next panels show Cho locking the lecture hall, killing a professor, and having the remaining students line up against the wall before he killed them execution style. The last panel shows what police saw when they found his corpse. It is wrong for the tabloid to allow the artist to take liberties in portraying Cho’s use of dual wielding his guns during his rampage; yet this doesn’t seem to be a stretch since the package Cho sent to NBC had videos of him dual wielding with the two guns he used on Monday.
This is one of the worst killings in US history so far and shows that not even universities are safe from this type of crime. Something should have been done the moment he got in trouble with university authorities in 2005 or when he was sent for mental help.
Living away from parents makes it harder for them to track his moods and feelings. Every student in the university is treated as an independent adult, this is partly the reason parents are usually not in the loop when he was given medication or therapy. His Korean parents appeared to be surprised and humiliated by the actions of their son, which makes them reluctant to speak for fear of criticism and further humiliation.
Its always easy to dismiss a social outcast like Cho as a loser or a loner instead of trying to take measures to keep him from slipping into the deep end. His roommates seemed to have taken some measures but didn’t really care since he was just the guy who randomly assigned to live with them or just an acquaintance. His downward spiral was witnessed by his roommates, who he did not kill. They did the bare minimum, but other than that, they left him to his own devices.
The University is also at fault for taking their sweet time in stopping him in light of school violence in these past years. Instead of making a public announcement to get everyone out of danger, they simply sent a discreet mass mail that made it seem like an isolated incident in the early hours when everyone is either sleeping or in class. This could of been stopped either when Cho started to act up or when he made the first kills, but they failed miserably in both cases. The ultimate tragedy is that all this could have been prevented if authorities aggressively treated Cho Seung-Hui for his problems before they manifested into what we all witnessed on Monday.