South Korea: The Politics of Pride and Shame

Michael Hurt discussed about the politics of pride and shame in South Korea society. His prediction on the social and media reaction on the recent events at Virginia Tech, with the mass murder-suicide of Cho Seung-Hui is very accurate: There is going to be serious national shame, expressed through the shock of this “representative of the culture” – even if the kid had been living in the States most of his life. There will be Korean media pointing at the parents, expressions of shock that “a Korean could do such a thing”…


  • Jim

    I thought it interesting when I first heard this perspective. My inital reaction was an American committed this horific crime because he was raised American.

    His ancestory was not to blame. He was a troubled youth – like others out there – who never fit in.
    Our society did not take him seriously nor was it predicable that this would happen. American culture was the influencer in this youth’s life. Not his ancestory.

  • Bea

    Should more of our societies feel as the South Korean people do, we would be prepared to foster better societies. The idea that if “one of our own commits a bad act we should all bear the disgrace” would certainly serve as a reminder of how our conduct affects us all. My prayers are also with the compassionate South Koreans who feel the shame for a boy, born in SK, but brought up in the American society.

  • Joe. K.

    There has been a lot of stories in the media related to Cho’s ethnicity. Though interesting, Korean heritage has no bering in this incident as Korea is one of the safest societies in the world. This type of heinous crime is virtually unheard of in Korea.

    When this child left Korea at the age of 8 to go to US, he certainly did not go to US with the intent of harming Americans some 15 years later.

    There has to be some serious questions asked about for Korean American parents.
    Do 1.5 generation Korean American children have difficulties in adjusting to American culture, especially the boys?
    Is there too much freedom in the US, like the freedom to purchase guns even when there are history of mental instabilty and the constant stream of violent images and sounds that are marketed toward young and easily influenced children?

    Obviously the Korean parents of Cho failed here, somewhere, but so did the society as a whole.

  • Woggler

    The shooter’s parents are getting a raw deal on this. By all accounts, they did seek psychological help for their disturbed son. That’s a step a surprisingly large amount of parents never take on behalf of their children. Also, the shooter had a sister, who, as far as we know, isn’t a deranged loner liable to commit a massacre. The parents appear to be completely blameless in this terrible incident.

  • m sparke

    I’m a korean of the 1.5 generation, immgrated with my parents when I was 9, middle brother was 6 and the youngest was born in there. I have to say that I never felt anything but American insise but my young classmates never let me forget that I was different. And yes I was different, at the time we were the only asian kids in a very large midwestern school district. But with time as we grew up they came to know me as a person and I could almost forget that I looked so different from them.

    I think it was harder for my brothers than for me, I was a cute young girl and even made danceline(something like a cheerleader) and yes I was the only one in the entire state.

    Yet, when I heard that the shooter was asian my first instinct was to be scared that he might be korean.

    This is what happens to minority people. You could probably ask any minority and they will tell you they had the same reaction at the time. God I hope he isn’t black, or hispanic or middle eastern.

    It goes to show how hard it is for the majority to understand and empathise with the minority.

    I personally don’t feel any culpability but I know that my parents are ashamed. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe if we all felt a bit more connected with each other we (in the collective sense) may not feel so alone or lonely.

    I’m not saying that this is possible in a world where we are so disconnected from each other and plugged into our own mp3s etc but isn’t it a nice thought? That you are my brother and sisters and I care about what you feel and think.

    Just a thought. Hope you all told someone you loved them today and that your happy that they are in your lives.

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