That's the taunt I received every single day when I walked home from school when I was a child living in Omaha, Nebraska. I hated it.
But I didn't grow up in a vengeful psycho mass murder nutcase, and I'm sure many of my readers endured similar bigotry and worse. Maybe it's because I ride a bicycle that I turned out to be so well balanced and happy as an individual.
Actually, as both a cyclist in an auto-centric culture and a GOOK, I understand PERFECTLY what Mr. Cho is saying in the NBC footage. He certainly fits the stereotype of the SUPER-achiever Asian male.
I try my best to buck the stereotype by being lazy. But, it's tough.
From the Buddhist Jew perspective, it seems Mr. Cho was DESTINED to his fate from a very young age. He felt so trapped by the same identity crisis, the stereotyping, and taunts the ALL American Gooks feel. This was really the ONLY way he was getting OUT. We all have our own little ways of dealing with it.
Unlike you, Fritz, I became UNBALANCED, disgruntled, and MAL-adjusted because of the bike and its place in American culture.
The straw that broke the camel's back: Flunking Creative Writing 101
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writers 46 minutes ago
BLACKSBURG, Va. - As experts analyzed the disturbing materials, it became increasingly clear that Cho was almost a classic case of a school shooter: a painfully awkward, picked-on young man who lashed out with methodical fury at a world he believed was out to get him.
"In virtually every regard, Cho is prototypical of mass killers that I've studied in the past 25 years," said Northeastern University criminal justice professor James Alan Fox, co-author of 16 books on crime. "That doesn't mean, however, that one could have predicted his rampage."
When criminologists and psychologists look at mass murders, Cho fits the themes they see repeatedly: a friendless figure, someone who has been bullied, someone who blames others and is bent on revenge, a careful planner, a male. And someone who sent up warning signs with his strange behavior long in advance.
Among other things, the South Korean immigrant was sent to a psychiatric hospital and pronounced an imminent danger to himself. He was accused of stalking two women and photographing female students in class with his cell phone. And his violence-filled writings were so disturbing he was removed from one class, and professors begged him to get counseling. Cho rarely looked anyone in the eye and did not even talk to his own roommates.
He described himself in his video diatribe as a persecuted figure like Jesus Christ. Cho, who came to the U.S. at about age 8 in 1992 and whose parents worked at a dry cleaners in suburban Washington, also ranted against rich "brats" with Mercedes, gold necklaces, cognac and trust funds.
Classmates in Virginia, where Cho grew up, said he was teased and picked on, apparently because of shyness and his strange, mumbly way of speaking.
Once, in English class at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., when the teacher had the students read aloud, Cho looked down when it was his turn, said Chris Davids, a Virginia Tech senior and high school classmate. After the teacher threatened him with an F for participation, Cho began reading in a strange, deep voice that sounded "like he had something in his mouth," Davids said.
"The whole class started laughing and pointing and saying, `Go back to China,'" Davids said.
Cho's great-aunt, who lives in South Korea, said Thursday that because he did not speak much as a child and after the family emigrated to the United States, doctors thought he may be autistic.
"Normally sons and mothers talk. There was none of that for them. He was very cold," Kim Yang-soon said in an interview with AP Television News. "When they went to the United States, they told them it was autism."
Neither school officials, who have his educational records, nor police who have his medical records, have mentioned such a diagnosis. Autistic individuals often have difficulty communicating, but such a diagnosis would not necessarily explain his violence.
Regan Wilder, 21, who attended Virginia Tech, high school and middle school with Cho, said she was sure Cho probably was picked on in middle school, but so was everyone else. And it didn't seem as if English was the problem for him, she said. If he didn't speak English well, there were several other Korean students he could have reached out to for friendship, but he didn't.
A 2002 federal study on common characteristics of school shooters found that 71 percent of them "felt bullied, persecuted or injured by others prior to the attack."
Cho "would almost be a poster child for the pattern that we saw," said Marisa Randazzo, the former chief research psychologist at the U.S. Secret Service and co-author of the study, conducted jointly with the Education Department.
Among the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre were two other Westfield High graduates, Reema Samaha and Erin Peterson. Both young women graduated from the high school last year, but police said it is not clear whether Cho singled them out.
Another expert who has worked with mentally disturbed young criminals suggested that Cho's actions probably had genetic causes.
"This is very different" from someone who was bullied to the breaking point — Cho was clearly psychotic and delusional, said Dr. Louis Kraus, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center.
"This type of mental illness that this poor man had was not something that was likely precipitated by teasing or bullying," he said. More likely, he said, is that Cho had a biological psychiatric disorder that may have worsened in recent years because of the pressures of college life and his leaving the support of his family.
Fox, the criminologist, said Cho probably made the decision to go on a killing spree months ago based on his weapon purchase. That would explain why witnesses described him as remarkably calm when he did the shooting.
"There's a lot of scripting that's going on in their heads, a lot of planning. Once they've decided it, there's a certain degree of comfort and satisfaction that they'll be the last to laugh," Fox said.
Fox said there is typically a precipitating event that sets a gunman off. It is not yet known what that was in Cho's case.
"It may not be huge" to normal people, but to Cho "it was the final straw that broke the camel's back," Fox said.
Associated Press writers Sarah Karush and Seth Borenstein in Washington, Sarah Cohen and Lindsey Tanner in Chicago, Sharon Cohen and Vicki Smith in Blacksburg, and Genaro C. Armas in State College, Pa., contributed to this report.
By Michelle Tsai Posted Thursday, April 19, 2007, at 6:44 PM ET
On Tuesday morning, Virginia Tech and police officials revealed the identity of the student gunman behind the Virginia Tech shootings. In the media blitz that followed, many news organizations referred to the killer as "Cho Seung-Hui"; others used the Americanized version, "Seung-Hui Cho." How did the news outlets decide which name to use?
They made their own decisions based on the little information they had at the time. Reuters, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, among others, went with Cho Seung-Hui, putting the family name first because that was how authorities had released the information. News desks in Asia tend to follow the tradition of listing the family name first, but in America, it's often left up to the subject of the article. In general, a reporter would ask an interviewee what name he or she prefers, but in this case, Cho was dead, and no one from his family could be reached. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, had concluded that "Cho" ought to be listed first because a state trooper of Korean origin who was working on the case recommended the more formal expression.
At the Washington Post, editors debated the matter of the name several times. The paper heard from people who knew the student that he sometimes went by the single name "Cho." By Thursday it was clear there was a conflict, as the paper had learned that the gunman had written the Americanized name on a speeding ticket and on a mental-health form. (At this point, they're still calling him Cho Seung Hui.)
The Asian version of the name—Cho Seung-Hui—appeared to be more widespread, in part because of its use in the ubiquitous wire stories from Reuters and the AP. As a result, some Korean-Americans felt media groups were playing up Cho's foreign-ness, according to the Asian American Journalists Association, which advised reporters to use the American order. As of Wednesday, Reuters was sticking with the Asian version, partly to conform with coverage from other news organizations. The AP, on the other hand, is investigating the name because of inconsistencies among various documents. (The wire service has its own inconsistencies: Official AP style eliminates hyphens for North Korean names—like "Kim Jong Il"—but includes them for South Koreans—like "Roh Moo-hyun.")
National Public Radio, ABC News, the Los Angeles Times, and others went with the American format of the name. They reasoned that Cho had been in the United States since 1992, and there was other evidence to suggest he preferred the American way. For instance, he used "Seung Cho" when he handed in work for his playwriting class. The L.A. Times also learned that a name tag found in Cho's suite said "Seung" and that Princeton University records showed that his sister had also Americanized her name. ABC News arrived at its decision after talking to its own producer in South Korea, producers in the United States, and staffers of Korean descent. CBS News made a decision late Wednesday to switch to the American style after it learned from the shooter's former principal that he was known as Seung-Hui Cho in high school.
I too was bullied. I have scars both permanent, a crooked tooth, and faded into invisibility, a burn on my left bicept from a pair of tongs deliberately heated in highschool shop class. It wasn't bigotry though, I and my persecuters shared the same pasty white skin.
I totally understand why he felt like he had no choice but to fight back, from the sounds of things he was "bullied, persecuted [and] injured by others".
The tragedy here is that his diseased mind didn't allow him to see that he really did have other options. Despite the horror I feel at his actions and a deep belief in the importance of personal responsibility I still feel some compassion for the man.
If he had been treated with kindness and tolerance throughout his life would he have been a healthy individual? Maybe not. But would he have chosen do what he did? Seems unlikely.
As to bicycles and mental health. For me there was and still is a direct link between my mental health and my bicycle. As a child it physically took me away from my tormenters. As a depressed teenager it gave me something positive to do when I was overwhelmed. And as an adult I still turn to the bike when I feel my mood slipping. The exercise, the focused concentration and the feeling of being in complete control that come from a good hard ride is the best therapy I've ever had.
SON OF A BITCH EXCLUSIVE: Grandad's anger at uni murderer Graham Brough In South Korea 20/04/2007
THE grandfather of Cho Seung-Hui said yesterday: "Son of a bitch. It serves him right he died with his victims."
Kim Hyang-Sik, 82, said he had a doom-laden dream of Cho's parents the night of his murderous rampage - and woke to hear the news of the massacre and his grandson's death.
He watched Cho's sick video of himself holding a gun to his head.
His sister Kim Yang-Sun, 85, who also saw it, told the Mirror that afterwards her brother was so distraught he had "gone away for a few days to calm himself down and avoid more questions".
She too repeatedly referred to the killer as "son of a bitch" or "a***hole" and said his mother Kim Hyang-Yim had problems with him from infancy.
Yang-Sun revealed the eight-year-old was diagnosed as autistic soon after his family emigrated to the US.
She said: "He was very quiet and only followed his mother and father around and when others called his name he just answered yes or no but never showed any feelings or motions.
"We started to worry that he was autistic - that was the big concern of his mother. He was even a loner as a child.
"Soon after they got to America his mother was so worried about his inability to talk she took him to hospital and he was diagnosed as autistic."
Yang-Sun spoke at her tiny one roomed shack inside a vinyl farm shelter in the Gohyang area of South Korea's capital Seoul.
The family had stayed there the night before they emigrated in 1992. Yang-Sun said Cho's mother had been reluctant to marry her older husband.
She said: "She had five brothers and sisters and she was the second eldest child. She took care of them after she graduated from high school, which meant a lot of self-sacrifice.
"Hyang-Yim was a full-time house person on one of her parents' small farms outside Seoul. She stayed at home like that for years and was still single at home when she was 29.
"We became worried that she was spending too much time at home with her brothers and sisters and family and getting to old for a husband.
"So the family decided to force her into a blind date to find a husband. She met Cho Sung-Tae on that date. He was 10 years older at 39 and still single too. They decided to get married soon after that.
"She didn't want to but her family insisted because we thought she was getting past the right age and it would be good for her.
"Her husband was very serious and quiet and careful with money. He was not very sociable and not very friendly to his mother-in-law and father-in-law.
"After they were married he went away twice to Saudi Arabia in the 80s to try to make some money in the construction boom. He came back with about £2,000, which was enough to buy a small house in Seoul. He also ran a second-hand bookstore. His mother was living in the States on a long term visit to stay with his sister. She asked him to bring his family to live there.
"His sold the house to pay for the emigration costs and rented instead but there were lots of delays and eventually the whole process to get the permissions and organise things took eight years.
"By that time the money from the house was nearly gone. They were barely making ends meet so they had nothing to lose and had this idea of the American dream where there was a lot of money to be made."
She went on: "The reaction of my brother was that Seung-Hui was a troublemaker and it served him right that he died because he caused his mother a lot of problems. He was more worried about his daughter.
"He spoke to a few reporters to express sympathy to victims' families on behalf of our family but now he has gone away. He is 82 and lives quietly on a small farm and all this is too much for him."
Other relatives admitted Cho's parents had always been aware of his problems but had neither the time nor money for specialist help.
His uncle Chan Kim, 56, said: "He wasn't like a normal kid. We were worried about him not talking.
"Both his parents knew he had mental problems but they were poor and they couldn't send him to a special hospital in the United States.
"His mother and sister were asking his friends to help instead.
"His parents worked and did not have time to look after his condition and didn't give him special treatment.
"They had no time or money to look after his special problem even though they knew he was autistic."
By JEAN H. LEE, Associated Press Writer Sun Apr 22, 7:27 PM ET
CENTREVILLE, Va. - Korean Americans in the community where Seung-Hui Cho grew up are still reeling from the shock of learning that the Virginia Tech gunman was one of their own. But many say Cho was a stranger even among the tight-knit families who were his neighbors.
Cho moved to northern Virginia when he was 8 and was raised in a growing immigrant community where the pressure to succeed was overwhelming and seeking mental health care carries a stigma.
After the slayings, Korean Americans held prayer meetings and candlelight vigils as they struggled to understand how Cho slipped through the cracks.
"I think we failed him as a society at large," says Josephine Kim, a mental health expert who also emigrated from South Korea at age 8. "I think our community failed him, the school system failed him, and definitely the immigrant life really failed him."
Cho, 23, left South Korea with his family in 1992. He and his older sister, Sun-Kyung, belong to what Korean Americans call the "1.5 generation" — those born in Asia but raised in U.S. and fluent in English by the time they reach high school.
Their parents, Sung and Hyang Cho, found work at a Washington-area dry cleaner, a business that has attracted many Korean immigrants. And like nearly three-quarters of the Korean community in the United States, the family attended a Korean church for a time. The children attended high school in nearby Chantilly.
A friend and high school classmate of Sun-Kyung Cho, Diana Hong, says Sun-Kyung was an overachiever — smart and accomplished. But she worried about her younger brother, who relatives said was unusually quiet and classmates say was sullen and withdrawn.
"From the beginning, he wouldn't answer me," Kim Yang-soon, Cho's great aunt, told AP Television News on Thursday in South Korea. Cho "didn't talk. Normally sons and mothers talk. There was none of that for them. He was very cold."
She said the family was told in the U.S. that Cho suffered from autism — but no records show such a diagnosis.
When her brother landed at Virginia Tech as a freshman, Sun-Kyung Cho asked friends to watch out for him, Hong said.
"The very first time we went to his dorm room, we were like: 'Hey, I know your sister ...' But he just nodded, and that's it," she said.
Cho didn't respond to further invitations and e-mails, Hong recalled.
Hong said her heart sank when she heard last Monday about the shooting at her alma mater. Later that day, she learned a friend was among the wounded, but would survive. On Tuesday, she discovered Cho was the shooter.
"He was very alone. He didn't talk with anybody," Hong said, twisting her hands. "Maybe we didn't try enough. I guess these questions come up in hindsight."
Sun-Kyung Cho said in a statement Friday that the family was "heartbroken" by their son's actions.
"We have always been a close, peaceful and loving family. My brother was quiet and reserved, yet struggled to fit in. We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence. He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare."
Many wonder why Cho did not receive more help — and why school officials or police failed to intervene, allowing a troubled young man to buy a pistol.
Kim, who specializes in depression among Korean Americans, characterized Cho as an "internalizer."
"They're not disruptive," she said. "Those students are withdrawn and isolated, and even though we see that as a problem, because it's not disruptive, often they slip through the cracks."
And she said Korean society — Confucian, patriarchal, and steeped in pride, dignity and the importance of family — has long viewed mental illness as a taboo topic best kept in the closet.
Many Koreans consider it "a sign of bad blood or a sin to be depressed, Kim said. "It's against our culture to talk about these things."
In immigrant families, the generation gap often is exacerbated by the cultural divide of parents struggling to make ends meet while their children try to become American, she said.
"Every Korean immigrant kid goes through it. And I think some come out stronger and better, and for some, it's really tough and they can't get over it," Hong said.
Kim, whose younger brother, Paul, was a classmate of Cho's at Virginia Tech, said she did not know the Cho family personally. But she speculated that "the parents really wanted to provide the American Dream for their kids, which required that they made superhuman sacrifices working really hard."
"That might have meant they didn't have enough time at home with their kids. It's often kids raising themselves," said Kim, speaking by telephone from Cambridge, Mass.
Little is known about Cho Seung-Hui's childhood and upbringing and what triggered Monday's rampage.
"Regardless of what circumstances shaped Seung-Hui Cho's life, I think this is an important time for the Korean-American community to reflect on how to take better care of the young people who feel like they're on the margins," said Heidi Shin, whose family lives in northern Virginia. "It's an absolute tragedy but we as a community have to figure out to learn from it."
The Chos, like many Korean immigrants, settled in the outskirts of the Washington suburbs. Centerville, about 26 miles from the nation's capital, had been known as an enclave for young, working-class families seeking more affordable housing in affluent northern Virginia.
Though still predominantly white, Centreville is more than 14 percent Asian, and Fairfax County was home to more than 28,000 Koreans, according to the 2000 Census, making it the sixth-largest Korean-American community. And that number is clearly rising, residents say.
Northern Virginia — wealthy, competitive and awash with high-achievers — is not an easy place for any teenager. But studies suggest adolescence is especially hard for young, Asian-American males, many of them conscious of the burden of living out their parents' dreams.
Kim cited a 1993 study in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease that showed the prevalence of depression higher among Korean Americans than other Asian Americans subgroups — and highest among Korean-American males.
Cho's classmates say Cho was a solitary, quiet figure who wore a low-riding backpack and was teased for his mumbled speech.
Charles Hsu, a Virginia Tech student, said he never knew Cho. "I'm pretty in with the Asian crowd at Virginia Tech but not many people knew him. I don't know how he went under our radar; usually Asian Americans tend to flock together."
Hsu is Chinese-American, but he joined about 150 Korean Americans who gathered Friday night at their church in nearby Herndon. Candles flickered on coffee tables, photos of the 32 killed lined the walls, and the U.S. and South Korean flags hung on the walls.
"We respond to this tragedy as Americans and as Koreans, so let's pray for this nation, that this nation will heal," the Rev. Dihan Lee said in prayer.
Many sobbed openly. After praying, they scribbled messages of condolences and faith on Hokies banners to take back to the Blacksburg campus.
But Lee urged worshippers not to be ashamed of their Korean heritage.
"Right now there's a lot of shame being passed around, but it's really important to understand: This is not our shame ... even though we sense it."