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[Editorial] A Letter from Virginia Tech

Posted April. 20, 2007 08:10,   


The day before yesterday, the Student Government Association of Virginia Tech sent an e-mail of appreciation to the Korean Embassy in the United States, in spite of its own agonies after the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech. In the letter, the students acknowledged their gratitude for the compassion and condolences that President Roh Moo-hyun, the leaders of Korea and other Koreans have demonstrated.

“Our strongest feelings are those channeled towards restoring sanctity and safety for students and people of all ethnicities, faiths, and representations. We are grateful to the Republic of Korea for expressing solidarity in this common pursuit,” read the message from the SGA. It also said, “(The) actions of one man will not and do not serve as a barrier between our students and the people of Korea.”

Korea received a similar letter from America in appreciation of its support operations during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans in 2005, killing more than 1,200 people. The letter from Virginia Tech, however, makes us reflect even further on our reactions.

This time, it was not a natural disaster, and the gunman was an immigrant with Korean citizenship. It is true that we were concerned that some two million Korean residents and 100,000 students studying abroad in America could face problems or that Korea’s relationship with the U.S. could be strained. We were even talking about sending a delegation to take part in the mourning. Contrary to our worries, however, Virginia Tech students are the ones comforting us.

As time went by, Koreans were relieved by the Americans’ response that the rampage is not a matter for Koreans and for it Koreans owe no apology; though they are grateful for the condolences. Koreans have been searching for ways to offer help – a natural attitude of people in a civilized society when friends are in need.

Nevertheless, misleading reports of some newspapers are making us feel miserable. A local daily released a cartoon satirizing President George W. Bush as saying in a briefing, “Thirty-three lives taken by guns, and this proves the excellence of our firearm technology.” The cartoon was deleted after a considerable backlash. Another newspaper posted a cartoon mocking the KORUS FTA, relating it to the incident, saying, “Is it required to legalize gun possession to become an advanced country?”

Regardless of their ideology, if these press organizations are thinking that the grief of others can also be material for political disputes, they must have given up the fulfillment of their responsibilities as a public body in modern-day society. They should learn from the letter sent by Virginia Tech students. They should understand the universal values of Americans and all mankind, which thinks and makes decisions based upon humanism and rationality in whatever cases.