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Rumors of Retaliation Unnerve Korean Communities

Posted April. 21, 2007 03:13,   


Although Virginia Tech is preparing to resume classes early next week after the recent shooting rampage, the worst in U.S. history, Korean immigrant communities remain alert over possible retaliation backlash. There are growing concerns for Korean residents in the U.S. as false rumors about violence against Korean Americans are swirling.

Korean Immigrant Society Worried about Backlash-

The New York Times reported on Thursday, “This tragedy reminded Korean Americans of the hardships Muslims in the U.S. went through after 9/11 as they are bracing themselves for possible prejudice and backlash stemming from the shooting spree.”

Professor Pak Gye-young of the Department of Humanities at University of California, Los Angeles said, “There are a lot of concerns among Koreans in Los Angeles in particular since they had fallen to the victims of the Los Angeles riot in 1992. They are worried that this incident could trigger a misunderstanding among ordinary people such as ‘The killer was a typical Asian lone male.’”

Jeong Jong-deok (47), who runs a beauty parlor in New York, said “When I first heard about this shooting rampage, I prayed that the culprit wouldn’t be a Korean. Unfortunately, however, it turned out that the killer was a Korean. I felt embarrassed and humiliated.”

Kwon Yul (32), a Korean American lawyer who became a celebrity after winning in the reality TV program titled “Survivor,” expressed his concerns, saying “One of the reasons I participated in the TV show was to change the mistaken notion against Asians. I really hope that this single incident won’t prompt a false idea that Asian men are incapable of adjusting into society.”

Koreans Becoming Increasingly Nervous over Groundless Rumors-

Another reason making many Korean Americans unnerved about backlash is the fact that there are not just a few rumors circulating at the moment. There are continuously emerging rumors, one after another, such as “On the wall of Korean markets, placards reading ‘Koreans GO Home’ were posted,” and “Annandale police are now armed in order to prevent retaliation attacks on Koreans from taking place.”

Centerville is a small town where the house of Cho Seung-hui is located, but the Korean owners in Korean markets said, “We never heard such stories. I don’t know where they came from.” Another Korean who works for the Korean Association in the area also dismissed the police armament notions.

A worker of a bakery run by Koreans in the Annandale area in Washington said, “I have no idea why so many people are asking if we have been getting attacked. We are just doing our business as usual.

There are some words that Korean students are being targeted for offenses, including being spit on, but such stories have hardly been confirmed. Such unfounded rumors are now prompting many Korean parents to drive their children to school instead of sending their kids on school buses.

Some rumors have it that in Los Angeles that you should avoid visiting Korea Town, and many cars made in Korea are targeted for vandalism. Some experts believe that such rumors are not real, but nonetheless, they reflect the growing worries of Korean residents living in the U.S.

The Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Calls for Alertness-

Lee Tae-sik, the Korean ambassador to the U.S., called on Korean Americans including Korean students to restrain from going outside late at night or holding an ethnic gathering, emphasizing the security concerns stemming from the recent shooting incident at Virginia Tech University.

The Korean embassy also revealed on its website that after the shooting rampage, a task force team was launched to prepare for emergence situations. The embassy requests to report to the emergency task force team (202-939-6469) if you witness incidents related to the security of Koreans.