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Cho was an engima and autistic

 
 
Miller
 
Reply Fri 20 Apr, 2007 02:11 pm
Relatives in South Korea say Cho was an enigma
By Choe Sang-Hun
Friday, April 20, 2007

SEOUL: When news of the Virginia Tech shootings reached here, Cho Seung Hui's uncle hardly imagined that the killer could be the boy he had last seen 15 years before, whose brooding silences had worried his hard-working mother since childhood.

"I didn't pay any attention in the beginning," said the uncle, who asked to be identified only by his surname, Kim. "But when I heard that it happened in Virginia, where my sister lived, and the name was Seung Hui, I knew. He has a girl's name - Seung Hui is a rare name for a man."

"I still cannot understand how he could do such a heinous thing," said Kim, 53. "He did something only a psychopath could do."

Cho, 23, who killed 32 people on Monday before taking his own life, had long been an enigma to his relatives in South Korea. Even as a small boy, they said, he never ran to his uncles or his grandparents, as children of his age usually do. Former schoolmates and teachers in Seoul, interviewed by local media, remembered him as quiet or did not remember him at all.

Cho's family never returned to South Korea after emigrating to the United States in 1992. Communications were sporadic. One or two phone calls a year - usually at holidays - were the only opportunities relatives had to learn how the family was doing.

Relatives said that at first they did not recognize Cho from the photos splashed in newspapers in South Korea. But they all said that he had been a loner, even before his family's emigration when he was 8 years old.

"The boy didn't say much and didn't mix with other children," said the uncle. " 'Yes, sir' was about all you could get from him."

In Korea's Confucian society, where male taciturnity is often prized, the boy's demeanor didn't particularly raise alarms, he said. But it appears to have worried his mother.

"When I told his mother that he was a good boy, quiet but well-behaved, she said she would rather he responded when spoken to than be good and meek," said Kim Yang Soon, Cho's 84-year-old great-aunt.

"His mother worried a lot about his shyness," said his uncle. "But we thought he was just a kid and he would grow out of it. We even thought that it would help the boy gain confidence if he moved to the United States with its open society. Apparently the problem got worse."

In Korean society, a crime by one family member brings tremendous shame to the entire clan. Cho has two uncles and three aunts in South Korea on his mother's side, but few would speak to reporters.

"The entire family is in awful shock," the uncle said between sighs during an interview. "We feel speechless with shame and guilt. We bow before the victims, their families and all the Americans. We are really, really sorry."

Before the massacre, Cho's family seemed to embody the kind of success story that would resonate with many South Korean parents who endured the poverty of the post-Korean War years and pinned their families' future on their offspring's education.

Cho's father, Cho Seung Tai, led a hardscrabble life in South Korea until he joined the thousands of Koreans who toiled in Saudi Arabian oil fields and construction sites in the 1970s and 1980s, relatives said. Back home with his savings, he married Kim Hyang Im, a daughter of poor farmers who had fled North Korea for the South during the war.

The husband and wife doted on their daughter and son. But they could only eke out a meager living from a small used-book store the father opened in Seoul.

A breakthrough seemed to have come when the father's relatives, who had earlier emigrated to the United States, invited them in 1984. But it took eight years to secure visas.

"They were poor but had a dream when they went to America," said the great-aunt. In the United States, Cho's parents put in long hours in dry-cleaning shops.

"My sister was always busy working," said Cho's uncle. "She was doing her best, saving what she could, to make a living and send her children to school."

"She could not come for a visit even when our mother died 10 years ago," he said. "When she called, she talked about her children, how happy she was that her daughter was going to Princeton."

But the happiness was overshadowed by Cho's impenetrable silence.

A pastor at a Korean church in Centerville, Virginia, where Cho grew up, told the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper he had once advised Cho's mother to take him to a doctor to check for autism. The mother disagreed, but prayed in church for her son to crawl out of his shell.

Cho's South Korean relatives said they had been unable to reach his family since the killings.

"I remember my sister telling us that she was going to the United States to have a better life and a better education for her children," said the uncle. "It breaks my heart when I think about how crushed she must be feeling now."

International Herald Tribune

Seoul, South Korea
April 21, 2007 - 11:46AM

Virginia Tech gunman Seung-hui Cho was diagnosed with autism after the family emigrated to the United States, a relative in South Korea says.

"From the beginning, he wouldn't answer me," Kim Yang-soon, Cho's great aunt, said in an interview Thursday. He "didn't talk. Normally sons and mothers talk. There was none of that for them. He was very cold".

"When they went to the United States, they told them it was autism," said Kim, 85, adding that the family had constant worries about Cho.

Cho's uncle gave a similar account, but said there were no early indications that the South Korean student who killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech University in the US had serious problems. The uncle asked to be identified only by his last name, Kim.

Cho "didn't talk much when he was young. He was very quiet, but he didn't display any peculiarities to suggest he may have problems," Kim told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. "We were concerned about him being too quiet and encouraged him to talk more."

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that encompasses a broad range of symptoms frequently including impaired social interaction and communication, as well as obsessive interests and behaviour. Autism remains a topic of heated debate in the scientific community, where little is understood about its cause.

Cho left South Korea with his family in 1992 to seek a better life in the United States. Since the shooting, the US government has been providing protection for Cho's parents, South Korea's ambassador to Washington said today.

"We've confirmed that the parents are being safely protected by US investigative authorities," Ambassador Lee Tae-sik told MBC Radio.

Lee said US authorities declined to say where the parents were "because they move from place to place everyday."

Kim, the uncle, said the family never visited their homeland and that he did not recognise his nephew when his picture appeared on television as the culprit in the deadliest shooting rampage in US history.

"I am devastated," Kim said between heavy sighs. "I don't know what I can tell the victims' families and the US citizens. I sincerely apologise ... as a family member."

In South Korea, Cho's parents ran a small book store in Seoul, Kim said. The family lived in a two-room apartment no larger than 40 square metres (430 square feet).

"They had trouble making ends meet in Korea. The book store they had didn't turn much profit," Kim said.

He said his sister - Cho's mother - occasionally called around holidays, but never mentioned having any problems with her son.

"She said the children were studying well. She didn't seem worried about her children at all," Kim said. "She just talked about how hard she had to work to make a living, to support the children."

He said he has been unable to reach Cho's mother since Monday's massacre. She and her husband now work at a dry cleaners in suburban Washington.

Meanwhile, the headquarters of South Korea's largest Buddhist sect, Jogye, held a memorial service for the Virginia Tech victims, offering flowers and incense on a mourning altar. Hanging in the temple's courtyard were 33 white lotus lanterns with the names of the dead, including the killer, Cho.

"They're all like my children. I will pray for the poor souls who lost their lives to reach nirvana," Buddhist follower Lee Yeon-sook, 68, said during the service.

The Age.com
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 843 • Replies: 11
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Miller
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Apr, 2007 03:00 am
If autistic, how was it that Cho could pass through the health care system for 15 years and remain undiagnosed?
0 Replies
 
AziMythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Apr, 2007 05:36 am
Autism is not an on-off switch, black-or-white either you have it or you don't. Kind of like saying "Is someone sick or not sick?" There's no such thing, either way. Everyone is constantly fighting off hundreds of illnesses every day, with varying qualities and degrees.


However, I get the idea that Cho himself definitely thought something was deeply wrong. How was he not able to find what he needed to make his life bearable?

Would anyone have talked with him at all, or spent any time connecting with him, given that he was so brooding and unhappy? I doubt it.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Apr, 2007 01:45 pm
Quote:
given that he was so brooding and unhappy


As are many suicidal individuals.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Apr, 2007 12:09 pm
Miller wrote:
If autistic, how was it that Cho could pass through the health care system for 15 years and remain undiagnosed?

In THIS case,
from the perspective of the victims' well being,
it seems that he was not autistic ENUF.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Apr, 2007 12:13 pm
Miller wrote:
Quote:
given that he was so brooding and unhappy


As are many suicidal individuals.

Over the years n decades,
I can not help but observe that
suicidally minded folks have committed multiple murders,
disproportionately to their representation in the population.

I 've heard it said that their inner rage
is turned around OUTWARD, and then all hell breaks loose.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2007 02:26 pm
OmSigDAVID wrote:
Miller wrote:
If autistic, how was it that Cho could pass through the health care system for 15 years and remain undiagnosed?

In THIS case,
from the perspective of the victims' well being,
it seems that he was not autistic ENUF.


You're right about that! By the way his diagnosis was made by his Korean aunt, who's neither a PhD nor an MD.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2007 02:29 pm
OmSigDAVID wrote:
Miller wrote:
Quote:
given that he was so brooding and unhappy


As are many suicidal individuals.

Over the years n decades,
I can not help but observe that
suicidally minded folks have committed multiple murders,
disproportionately to their representation in the population.

I 've heard it said that their inner rage
is turned around OUTWARD, and then all hell breaks loose.


Are you saying they're suicidal and anti-social?

I'd say they were hopeless.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 May, 2007 02:14 am
Miller wrote:
OmSigDAVID wrote:
Miller wrote:
Quote:
given that he was so brooding and unhappy


As are many suicidal individuals.

Over the years n decades,
I can not help but observe that
suicidally minded folks have committed multiple murders,
disproportionately to their representation in the population.

I 've heard it said that their inner rage
is turned around OUTWARD, and then all hell breaks loose.


Quote:
Are you saying they're suicidal and anti-social ?

Historically, some folks who have expressed suicidal ideation
have proven to be multiply homicidal.
I have no data qua the proportions thereof.



Quote:
I'd say they were hopeless.

R u denying that hopeless people
can become murderous ?

David
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 May, 2007 06:18 am
Quote:
R u denying that hopeless people
can become murderous ?


No!
0 Replies
 
OGIONIK
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 May, 2007 02:30 am
the guy probablly just needed to get laid. and im not trying to be funny im serious.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 May, 2007 11:58 am
No prostitutes in the Commonwealth of Virginia?
Laughing Laughing Laughing
0 Replies
 
 

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