Rotten Apple - I was going to write about comparing weather patterns here and in the Great Plains region but other unfortunate current events oblige me to acknowledge the Virginia Tech massacre and the sentiments of Koreans.

†† Yes, the crazed gunman was a 23 year-old South Korean named Seung-Hui Cho.His family emigrated to the U.S. to make a better life when Cho was 8 years old. That should be the extent of the tragedyís association with South Korea but the media seems to be overemphasizing his ethnicity and country of origin; although, you may recall that in these types of massacres there isnít a definite pattern of age, race, economics or education of the killerís profile (just that most of them are male).

Koreans in Korea and in America are ashamed of Choís actions and sympathetic to family and friends of the victims.The newspapers here daily speak of the vigils and sympathetic words spoken for the victims and their families.But many Koreans are also afraid of retaliation from angry ďAmericansĒ. Many here have canceled trips or plans to study in the U.S. This is a financial loss to the U.S. since Korean nationals make up about 15% of graduate students (not counting the Korean-Americans). Some Korean-Americans wonít go outside alone and are paranoid of what their neighbors now think of them.Koreans have worked hard as an ethnic group in building and maintaining a decent reputation in the U.S. and now itís tarnished by a rotten apple.

As outrageous as it sounds, that people would judge all Koreans by the acts of this one madman, donít think it canít happen.Human nature tends to fear and fight those whom we donít understand. This brings to mind the aftermath of 9-11 when many Arabs were unjustly targeted from the national level down to the playground level.I had many Muslim students in my high school classes in Arlington, Texas.About a week after 9-11 happened, one of the girls asked if she could read a letter that she had written to the class.ďOf courseĒ, I said (99 percent of our Muslim students were exemplary citizens and students).She read her letter and it said something to the effect of:None of my family members nor members of my Muslim mosque agrees with the doctrines of these terrorists. We love America and wish to live in peace and allow others to worship as they wish.I want to thank those of you who continue to be kind to me and my Muslim friends (the girls are easy to pick out. Most wear the headscarf), but many students that donít know us are pushing us in the hallway and yelling mean things behind our backsÖÖ

Being the large-scale massacre that it was at V-Tech some changes are bound to be made in the name of safety and security but the tradeoff is always less freedom for the law-abiders.Thanks to 9-11, gone are the days when we could run into the airport 15 minutes before takeoff and make it to the plane on time.Also, gone are the farewells and greetings at the gate.Thanks to the shoe bomber, we have to take off our shoes during security screening.Thanks to the terrorists who were going to blow up ten British jets with liquid-gel bombs, my husband had his hair gel and face lotion confiscated and thrown in the trash can today before boarding for Ireland.Thanks to gun-toting/drug dealing kids, the middle school students where I used to teach in Dallas had to buy new clear-vinyl or mesh backpacks and still go through the metal detectors.As one of my high school students said once:ďI hate it when my mom watches 20/20 or one of those news shows.She always makes a new rule for us after watching it.Ē

†† As for the Brady Bill in America, I read that the background check failed us with Cho due to lack of funding necessary to coordinate the system.Iím sure theyíll fund it now.Here in Korea guns are illegal to own by private citizens.Only police, military, security and the like are allowed them.Most foreigners agree that a big positive here is the relative safety from gun violence.Even swords are illegal, as my 2 American female friends and I found out on our return trip from China in í94.The Korean customs agent thought we were transferring on to a plane headed to America but when we told him we lived here in Korea he went aghast and stated that he had to confiscate our Chinese swords.We begged him not to so he told us to hide them under the bed and donít let them see the light of day until our departure to the U.S.

Now that I have a son who looks all Korean, due to his fatherís eyes and hair, I am more concerned about how the world views Koreans. Judging from what I see and read around me, as a self-appointed representative of the Korean people I apologize for what happened at Virginia Tech and ask that relations not be damaged or worsened due to the killerís nationality.

Endnote:youíll notice that my articles are shorter and not quite as polished as previous ones (and sometimes nonexistent).I no longer have the luxury of sitting for hours at the computer with two free hands for typing, thanks to baby Andrew.So if it looks like youíre reading a first draft instead of a fifth draft, you probably are.

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