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Korean Immigrant Society Holds Nationwide Vigil for Victims

Korean Immigrant Society Holds Nationwide Vigil for Victims

Posted April. 19, 2007 03:58,   


“Now is the time to recover from the shock and share the grief with the victims’ families.” The Korean immigrant society is recovering from the initial shock it suffered when the killer behind the carnage at Virginia Tech University was identified as a Korean national and is trying to deal with this incident in a calm and unified manner.

The Korean immigrant community said in unison that this incident should serve as an opportunity for it to reconcile with and further strengthen its roots in U.S. mainstream society. The Korean American federation and church associations in Washington, Virginia, and Maryland held an emergency meeting on Wednesdays to come up with effective response efforts after the shooting rampage, such as organizing donations, cooperating with U.S. news media, and visiting the victims’ families.

The chief adviser, Kim Yeong-geun of the Washington Korean American Community said, “We decided to organize a support fund in an effort to share the grief of the families,” adding that he will release the detailed plans for the fund in the near future. The emergency meeting also decided to send U.S. news media letters asking for their cooperation in not publicizing the nationality of the killer as far as possible.

Kim Yeong-mahn, former chairman of the Korean Chamber of Commerce (KOCHAM) said, “Although there are concerns that this tragic incident may trigger anti-Korean sentiment in U.S. society, I believe that it also serves as an opportunity for the Korean American Community to reflect upon and restore our reputation as exemplary and responsible members of the U.S. immigrant society.”

Lee Tae-sik, the Korean ambassador to the U.S., also attended a vigil hosted by the Korean American Community in the Washington area and suggested the observing of a 32-day voluntary fast through which to reflect and share the deep sorrow and grief of the victims’ families.

Korean Associations in other areas are responding rapidly in order to deal with the shock and hold vigils for the victims across the U.S., and Korean Communities in New York and New Jersey have convened extraordinary meetings and formed a taskforce to organize a remembrance service for the victims. Civic groups in Los Angeles released a statement saying that the Korean American Community should not become a scapegoat for this incident. Representatives from the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable (LAUPR) and the Los Angeles Civic Rights Association (LACRA) visited the Korean consulate general in Korea Town and delivered a statement that reaffirmed the fact that the shooting rampage was committed by a single solitary person and for this the entire Korean Community should not to be blamed.

President Roh Moo-hyun sent his condolence to President Bush on Wednesday, expressing “a deep concern and sorrow for the victims, injured, the victims’ families, and U.S. citizens.” He also expressed his hope in the message that “all U.S. citizens, under the leadership of the president, can recover from the grief and shock and get back to normal, everyday life as soon as possible.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of State sent an official letter to the ministry of the Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade stating that the U.S. government does not believe that the incident will affect the relationship between the two countries.”

kong@donga.com gun43@donga.com