- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

The parents of Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-hui have avoided public appearances since his deadly shooting Monday, but some of his relatives in Seoul have spoken to Korean media — shedding more light on the killer’s past.

Cho, a 23-year-old English major, had speech difficulties as a child, Dong-a Ilbo daily reported yesterday.

Cho “troubled his parents a lot when he was young because he couldn’t speak well, but was well-behaved,” Cho’s maternal grandfather, identified only by his last name, Kim, told the newspaper.

Cho’s parents took him and his sister to the United States in 1992 to seek a better life, said Mr. Kim, who’s had little contact with his daughter or her family since then.

“How could he have done such a thing if he had any sympathy for his parents, who went all the way to another country because they couldn’t make ends meet and endured hardships?” Mr. Kim asked.

Cho’s uncle — his mother’s younger brother — also told the newspaper he’d heard very little from the U.S. family, who live in Centreville, Va.

“I don’t even know my sister’s phone number,” the newspaper quoted the uncle as saying. “Before she emigrated in 1992, she told me she was leaving for her children’s education. Since she emigrated, I haven’t seen her for nearly 15 years.”

Even Cho’s relatives in the United States don’t seem to have a clear sense of his parents’ well-being.

The chairman of a local Korean association visited Cho’s uncle — his father’s brother — at the uncle’s suburban Maryland home.

Baik In-suk, chairman of the Korean-American Association of Northern Virginia, said he went to Cho Sung-ryol’s home to offer comfort and check on the family.

The uncle said he “assumes” the family is fine, said Mr. Baik, who spoke to the uncle for about 15 minutes.

Police cordoned off Truitt Farm Drive in Centreville, listed as Cho’s address, when authorities identified him Tuesday as the killer. Virginia property records indicate the family bought the two-story townhouse in 1997.

Efforts to reach Cho’s parents at their home or the Centreville dry cleaning business have been unsuccessful.

Cho’s sister, Sun-kyung Cho, works as a contractor for the State Department’s Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, according to U.S. officials and a State Department staff directory that states she works from an annex near the department’s headquarters in the District.

Efforts to reach the 2004 Princeton University graduate also have been unsuccessful.

In addition to the many groups dedicated to the 32 victims of the massacre on the social-networking Web site Facebook, a few groups are dedicated Cho’s family.

Cho “has a family, and we need to remember THEM in our prayers as we tend to focus our prayers and attention on the families of other tragic deaths,” says a group titled “Praying for the family of Cho-Seung-Hui.” “NO, you don’t need to join this group to pray for the family, but in an online community that is full of HATE messages toward Cho Seung-hui … I thought it fitting to post something positive.”

Of the nearly 178 Facebook groups containing Cho’s name, many contain expletives and express anger toward Cho, a 2003 graduate Westfield High School in Chantilly.

“Its [sic] this kind of attitude that pushed him over the edge,” one student wrote on the group’s discussion board. “PRAY guys. thats [sic] all we can do at this point.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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