Koreans Ashamed, Fear Backlash After School Massacre

As condolences worldwide pour forth following the deadliest school massacre in U.S. history, many Koreans in America and abroad have in addition to sympathy expressed both shame and fear of a racial reprisal in the coming days.

"At first, I was appalled at the magnitude of the mass killing. And then I was shocked all the more and felt ashamed as the killer was identified as a South Korea," said Kim In-Sook, a 52-year-old mother of two university students in Seattle, according to Agence France-Presse.

"I am afraid Korea's image might be damaged," she added. "My Korean friends and I are all concerned about the aftermath of this tragedy. We tell our kids to be on alert."

There are some 460 Korean students on the Virginia Tech campus.

The shooting rampage at Virginia Tech on Monday left 33 people dead including the 23-year-old South Korean gunman Cho Seung-Hui has left the world shocked and Virginia Tech students numb.

Among the victims were two professors whose families in Israel and India are grappling with their unexpected deaths.

Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mathematics lecturer, survived the holocaust but died from a fatal shot on Monday while trying to block the doorway so students could escape through the window.

Indian-born G.V. Loganathan, 51, a professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was also killed by the gunman.

"We all feel like we have had an electric shock, we do not know what to do," the professor's brother G.V. Palanivel told NDTV news channel.

Yet as police continue to probe into the motive behind the shooting spree, the gunman's fellow countrymen are apprehensive that grief will turn to anger and violence against the Korean community.

"Even if this is an individual case committed by a sick person, everybody does not see things rationally," said Park Ha-Seok, 50, an insurance company manager, to AFP.

"Some crazy guys like KKK (the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan) might take it out on other Koreans. This might also raise voices for the U.S. government to tighten controls on immigration."

There are some two million Koreans living in the United States, according to AFP.

Meanwhile, overseas, South Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun offered condolences and prayers to the American people and President Bush.

"Praying for the victims, I convey my deepest condolences from the bottom of my heart to the injured, the bereaved families and U.S. citizens," said Roh in a statement, according to AFP.