- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Korean newspaper stands outside Shilla Bakery in Annandale yesterday carried the same photograph and headlines as their American counterparts: a mug shot of Cho Seung-hui and a large caption identifying the Korean national as the gunman who killed 32 persons in Monday’s Virginia Tech massacre.

Small groups of diners sat inside the Korean-owned cafe off Little River Turnpike, a hub of Korean-owned businesses, sipping coffee and munching on pastries as a television news crew hovered outside.

Virginia Tech sophomore Gina Lim sat at one table and shook her head at the thought of the shooting — the deadliest in U.S. history — at the end of which the gunman killed himself.

Miss Lim, herself a Korean-American, called Cho, whom she did not know, “a senseless individual.”

The 19-year-old said she has not witnessed a backlash against Korean-Americans — something she said she hadn’t even considered until she received an e-mail from the university’s Asian Student Union offering advice on how to respond to threatening e-mails or other discriminatory behavior.

“I was kind of surprised,” Miss Kim said as she dipped her spoon into a bowl of ice cream she was sharing with a friend. “I mean, we’re all intelligent.”

Northern Virginia is home to the United States’ third-largest Korean population after Los Angeles and New York. The Korean American Association of Northern Virginia estimates that 100,000 Koreans live in the region.

Debbie Lee, who works for a Korean optometrist in Annandale, said her office reviewed its charts to make sure Cho, whose family lives in nearby Centreville, was not a patient. He wasn’t.

“It’s terrible,” Miss Lee said of Monday’s shootings.

Miss Lee’s niece, a student at Centreville High School, said she has noticed a change in students’ behavior toward Korean students and even Asian students who aren’t Korean.

“They say they’re not going to tease me because I might shoot them,” said the 16-year-old sophomore, who asked to remain anonymous.

Miss Lee added that she, like other parents, is worried about the safety of her children at school.

Annandale Realtor Insoo Kim echoed those sentiments as he left his Seoul Plaza office on Markham Street.

“I worry about that now,” said Mr. Kim, the father of two teens.

The Korean American Coalition’s D.C. chapter organized one of the area’s many prayer services honoring victims Tuesday night.

“The catastrophe that has befallen the victims and their families is tragic and terrible,” said chapter President Gie Kim. “As fellow Americans, our community expresses sympathy with the victims and their families as fellow Americans, and the thoughts and prayers of our community are with them.”

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