Source AP ©

Suspect in shooting at Virginia Tech university is South Korean native

South Korea is shocked by the fact that the suspect in a shooting at Virginia Tech university in the United States was a South Korean native.

Late Tuesday evening in Seoul, the suspect was identified as Cho Seung-hui, 23, a senior in the English department, who the South Korean Foreign Ministry said had been living in the United States since 1992.

The shooting rampage, which left 33 dead including the suspect, was the deadliest in modern U.S. history.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun "was shocked beyond description again over the fact that the tragic incident was caused by a South Korean native who has permanent residency" in the U.S., his office said in a statement.

The president "reiterated his deep condolences and consolation along with South Koreans to victims, their families and American people," the statement said.

Roh also asked Korean communities in the U.S. to help overcome the tragedy.

It was the second statement of the day from Roh about the shootings, following earlier remarks before the suspect was identified as Korean.

There was no known motive for the shootings, said Cho Byung-je, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official handling North American affairs, who added that South Korea hoped the tragedy would not "stir up racial prejudice or confrontation."

South Korean diplomats were traveling to the site of the shooting, ministry spokesman Cho Hee-yong said.

The suspect was in the U.S. as a resident alien with a residence in Centerville, Virginia, but living on campus, the university said.

"He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," school spokesman Larry Hincker said.

Immigration records maintained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security show Cho was born in South Korea on Jan. 18, 1984, and entered the United States through Detroit on Sept. 2, 1992. He had last renewed his green card on Oct. 27, 2003.

A South Korean student was also among those injured in the rampage, and Roh instructed diplomats to care for that person and to confirm whether any other South Korean students were hurt.

Kim Min-kyung, a South Korean student at Virginia Tech reached by telephone from Seoul, said there were about 500 Koreans at the school, including Korean-Americans. She said she had never met Cho.

Out of fears of possible retaliation if alone, she said South Korean students were gathering in groups "as it could be dangerous."

Despite being technically in a state of war for decades against North Korea, South Korea is a country where citizens are banned from privately owning guns and no school shootings are known to have occurred.

However, the country has not been immune to shooting rampages.

In 2005, a military conscript believed to be angered by taunts from senior officers killed eight fellow soldiers, throwing a grenade into a barracks where his comrades were sleeping and firing a hail of bullets.

The deaths sparked concern about how young soldiers were treated in the country's military, in which all men are required to serve for two years.