The family of the gunman in the Virginia Tech shootings had struggled while living in Korea, and emigrated to the U.S. to seek a better life, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Cho Seung-Hui's family lived in a Seoul suburb in a rented basement apartment — usually the cheapest in a multi-unit building, landlord Lim Bong-ae, 67, told Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's largest newspaper.
"I didn't know what (Cho's father) did for a living. But they lived a poor life," Lim told the newspaper. "While emigrating, (Cho's father) said they were going to America because it is difficult to live here and that it's better to live in a place where he is unknown."
Police identified the shooter's father as Cho Seong-tae, 61.
Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old senior majoring in English at Virginia Tech, arrived in the United States as boy in 1992. He was raised in suburban Washington, D.C., where his parents worked at a dry cleaners.
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun held a special meeting with aides Wednesday to discuss the shooting, and was to speak publicly about the tragedy later in the day, his office said, without elaborating on what the president discussed with his aides.
The presidential Blue House issued a condolence statement Tuesday saying Roh "was shocked beyond description ... over the fact that the tragic incident was caused by a South Korean native who has permanent residency" in the U.S.
South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Tuesday night, expressing condolences and sympathy for the victims, the ministry said.
The case topped the front pages of nearly all South Korean newspapers Wednesday, which voiced worries that the shootings may trigger racial hatred in the U.S.
"We hope that this incident won't create discrimination and prejudice against people of South Korean or Asian origin," the Hankyoreh newspaper said in an editorial.
A sense of despair prevailed among the South Korean public.
"I'm too shameful that I'm a South Korean," an Internet user with the ID "iknijmik" wrote on the country's top Web portal site, Naver — among hundreds of messages on the issue. "As a South Korean, I feel apologetic to the Virginia Tech victims."
But some college students said the shooting was a case of an individual acting alone, and that Cho's South Korean heritage shouldn't matter.
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