By Daniel Johnson-Kim, Sports Editor
Seung Hui Cho’s Korean immigrant parents didn’t know how to help their son.
According to the Washington Post, the college student who killed 32 students and himself on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16 led a troubled life, and the violent tragedy was the culmination of a lifetime of isolation and loneliness. Despite numerous attempts to help their son, the Chos weren’t able to get through to him.
Hyang Im Cho and her husband Sung Tae Cho spoke before an investigative panel organized by Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, and in a report recently released, the Chos described their son’s descent into a life of madness and hate.
Cho’s descent began when he moved to the United States in 1992. The Chos moved to the country for the education of their children, and Seung immediately became introverted. He was taunted at school for his Asian accent but never talked about his feelings or the thoughts in his head.
Cho’s seclusion got worse as he aged, so much so that his parents ignored the Asian cultural taboo of admitting mental illness and sought help from an art therapist and psychiatrist. But nothing seemed to help.
While in therapy, Cho would create houses without windows and doors, and as he got older, the houses turned into dark and strange caves and tunnels, the Post reported. Cho expressed a desire to “repeat Columbine” and eventually stopped receiving therapy.
All the while, his parents struggled to understand him, partially because of the language barrier and because of the rift between their troubled son and themselves.
While I read all these facts in the Washington Post article, “Killer’s Parents describe attempts over the years to help isolated son,” I couldn’t help but empathize with Cho.
Although what he did can never be justified, I know what it’s like to not be able to have a parent that can completely understand me.
My mother, who I love more than anyone in the world, is also a Korean immigrant. And though she has lived in this country for more than 20 years, working three jobs to support me and my sister, growing up, many of the feelings and conversations we had during my childhood were lost in translation.
I remember times as a child when I would lie out of convinence because I didn’t want to explain or translate something for my mother. So instead of telling the real reason I was late for dinner, I would tell a lie that she understood; I lied out of laziness.
I used to resent having a mother who didn’t speak perfect English and was frustrated with not being able to completely communicate how I felt.
But now I know that my relationship with my mother is what shaped me into the adult I am today.
Unlike Cho, I didn’t become a recluse and blame the world for my problems. Instead, I used them as fuel-reasons to strive for success.
Whenever I spend a late night writing or question why I stress over grades as much as I do, I remember the struggles I had as a child and the goals I have for my future.
I have accepted my heritage and love my mother and am thankful for my childhood.
Without it, I would not be the crazy half-Korean journalism major I am today.