Senseless... Speechless. Who is this young Korean man who committed this heinous crime at Virginia Tech? Why? What made him lose human decency?

I'll never understand. It was certainly not the first time it happened nor it won't be last, unfortunately.

Ironically, this week a new movie just went into production and it deals with what makes America these days. Sort of CRASH meets TRAFFIC and it's about immigrants in the States. It's called CROSSING OVER and is directed by Wayne Kramer (RUNNING SCARED). I know about this project because they asked me to find an actor in Korea to play a Korean teenager who's central to the story. The character is angry for no obvious reason and he goes through what most young immigrants go through... that is, who am I? I think they found someone in the States to play the role. I'm curious to see how this incident will affect the outcome of the movie.

Also, will this incident stigmatize the Koreans? As much as I hope it doesn't result in any hate crime, this will be a huge burden on the Koreans, especially those who reside in the States.

On this beautiful Tuesday night in Seoul where I just came back from New Zealand Wine & Jazz Night (alright, I'm tipsy), I'm still trying to understand what it all means. I feel bad for those victims and their families and friends but is that it? I feel so helpless. Nothing I can do but feel bad. Something we talk about for days and then we move on. Is this another front page we may casually chat about 5 years from now? Am I losing my human decency?

Comments

Anonymous said…
I knew this was done by Korean because of the way the Korean guy executed them. He ordered them to line up against the wall and shot one by one. That's sorta military drill. A man such a young age, I assumed he must have had military experience or some sort. That's South Korea, right? Hey, why don't you make a movie about the guy. Really. The Virgin Massacre. Sounds like a good title, huh?
kelvinwong said…
Not sure about the connection made of "being Korean" and the "militaristic executions". I think too much can be made of a person's ethnic background. Of course to some degree one's ethnicity does shape a person, but my understanding is that this guy emigrated with his family to the U.S. when he was 8 years old. His mentality may have been more "American" than "Korean" and for all we know, he may have identified himself as being an American as opposed to being a Korean.

Don't know for a fact but unless this Cho returned to Korea, he may not have even served a stint with the Korean military. Sure, Korea has a strong militaristic tradition and this has influenced the strict disciplinarian upbringing of most Korean children. But I think it is a stretch to imply the killings had something distinctively Korean written all over it. Columbine teens, Virginia sniper, people who have gone "postal", Tim McVeigh (Oklahoma bomber), Cho, etc. should not be distinguished as white, or black, or Korean, but people who are deeply troubled.

As the news reports are saying, the guy had mental illness and was a recluse. He probably had a distorted sense of reality. As anyone who knows people with mental issues---whether it be a spouse with mild mood swings (anyone who is married knows what I mean), or a friend with severe depression, or a cousin with schizophrenia, or a grandparent with Alzheimer's---mental illness is so common and it affects lives and sometimes in its extreme form, leads to wasted lives (seemingly senselessly). We all see it---mental issues leading to dysfunctional people leading to dysfunctional families which is Life (American Beauty, Little Miss Sunshine, etc.)

Perhaps something is "missing" with these people (and to some degree with us all), whether it be a deficiency in one's neuro/bio-chemistry, or missing a sense of belonging or purpose, or missing spiritual faith.
Anonymous said…
Hmm... I agree with you. The Cho guy went totally nut because of his life style or whatever. Funny and idiotic when I saw a picture of him holding a hammer in his right hand, pretending to be the guy from Oldboy. At first the news reminded me of the Korean store owner standing on the rooftop to protect his own store with rifles in his arms back in the 1992 Los Angeles Riot. The scene on TV was so Korean to me because no other Asians could do that thing. What's happening in the States aftermath is we hear and see so much harassing going against Koreans and some other non-Koreans/Asians there. That's totally unforgivable. This blog belongs to a Korean filmmaker therefore I'd like to tell him one thing. It might be good idea for him to make a movie about this Cho guy. Asian guy gone crazy in the Redneck nation. We know Wonsuck is making an action film set in South Korea, however this Cho guy material is really something to speak for. No offense to Wonsuck, but it's more important than his current film for sure. Is this guy just another wacko? or what? I think there's something more on what Cho had in mind than what Cho did on campus. Not now but few years later. Only if Wonsuck's new film makes money this time though....
kelvinwong said…
Okay Anonymous, I guess I see that you are getting. Perhaps
kelvinwong said…
(oops)
I guess I see what you are getting at---perhaps a vigilante-like FALLING DOWN (Michael Douglas) meets KUNG FU (old David Carradine TV show). I guess there may be Black American movies trying to show the frustration of being a minority in America, but okay, perhaps one from a Korean/Asian-American perspective. But perhaps the new movie that Wonsuk alluded to (CROSSING OVER), addresses this precise issue.

(It is interesting to see U.S. news coverage referring to Cho as an "Alien Resident"---per US immigration vocabulary---where we in Canada refer to such legal immigrants as "Landed Immigrants").
Wonsuk Chin said…
It's too early even to think about making a movie about this guy or this horrific incident. His act had nothing to do with him being Korean but we have to take into account what he went through as a young frustrated, alienated Korean American man. But then so many kids go through what he went through but they don't go out and shoot people. That he was just crazy isn't a satisfactory answer. That he was just evil? Well, we want answers but how can one fathom so many atrocities in the world?
Anonymous said…
Wonsuk,

Hello, we hope we see you again one day. We loved the one evening we spent with you in Maryland. Just wanted to let you know that I lost a former student, Henh Ly, to the shooter at Tech. I am also a doctoral student there. I don't want anyone to make a movie about this young man...
Anonymous said…
sorry, that last message was sent by Katrina Landon/Gary Winkler

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