중앙데일리

Rampage ends ‘American dream’

Family moved to the U.S. to escape hard life in South Korea

Apr 19,2007
reporters yesterday at the house in Seoul where Cho, who killed 33 people, including himself, at Virginia Tech University, used to live before his family immigrated to the United States. Choi Hyeong-seok, at the door, the owner’s grandson, said he does not recall anything about Cho. By Kim Seong-ryong
The starting point for Cho Seung-hui’s shattered American dream was a small basement apartment in northern Seoul. The young Korean, identified by authorities as the gunman who killed 32 at Virginia Tech University in the United States, was born in Seoul in 1984. He lived in the humble two-bedroom home with his parents and an older sister until he turned eight. His family then moved to the United States, in 1992.
“The Chos wanted to move out before their contract expired,” said the 67-year-old landlady who owns the 33 square meter apartment (355-square-foot) in Chang-dong, Dobong district, Seoul. “I asked them where they were moving, and they said it was too hard to live in Korea, so they wanted to go to the United States.”
She remembered Cho Sung-tae, the gunman’s father, saying that he was a man of little knowledge and wealth but he had heard that, in America, it was easier to earn money and he wanted to educate his children in a good place.
Dreaming of a better life, the Chos entered the U.S. in Detroit, Michigan, and settled in Centerville, Virginia in 1997. The family lived in a three-bedroom townhouse in a middle-class neighborhood and the parents ran a laundry. Cho’s sister entered Princeton University in 2000 and Cho enrolled at Virginia Tech in 2002.
On the surface, the family appeared to have realized their American dream, until Cho opened fire on 32 schoolmates and professors and killed himself on Monday.

Cho Seung-hui
“He was a loner, and we’re having difficulty finding information about him,” Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said after the shooting. Korean students at the university also said Cho never socialized with them. Many said they didn’t even know who Cho was.
“I never saw him with anyone,” said Cho’s roommate, Joe Aust, 19, a sophomore from Westminster, Virginia, who was quoted by the Baltimore Sun. “He ate alone in the dining hall and shunned any attempts at friendship.”
Cho was a quiet English major, but his classmates and professors recalled that his writings were gory and disturbing. According to ABC News, Lucinda Roy, co-director of Virginia Tech’s creative writing program, alerted authorities in 2005 about Cho’s potential for violence after teaching him.
Roy said she informed counselors and police about Cho’s behavior and writings, but the authorities were unable to act because there was no explicit threat.
ABC, quoting Cho’s classmates, said that he wrote two plays that were disturbing. In one, Cho wrote about teenagers who want to kill their teacher. In another, Cho wrote about a boy who hates his stepfather.
While Cho disturbed his professors and classmates with his dark writings, neighbors of the Cho family described them as polite, good people. Linda Liba, who lives across the street from the Chos, told the Washington Post that Cho Hyang, the gunman’s mother had brushed snow off her car when Liba was pregnant. “The family is very good,” Liba was quoted as saying. Liba said the Cho daughter, Sun-kyung, who majored in economics at Princeton University, accompanied her parents as they left for work in the early morning.
The Cho home was sealed off by police and rumors quickly spread in the U.S. Korean community that Cho’s parents had committed suicide. A Korean church pastor claimed that the father cut his wrists while the mother had taken a drug overdose.
Fairfax County Police denied the rumors but refused to give any information about the family’s wherabouts.


By Ser Myo-ja Staff Writer/ Park Sung-woo JoongAng Ilbo



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