Zach Kun Lin Han: The Virginia tragedy


Zach Kun Lin Han: The Virginia tragedy


By: Zach Kun Lin Han
Posted: 4/19/07

The massacre at Virginia Tech gripped the nation the way Hollywood films always do.

Except that it wasn't a film. The slayings were real, brutal and heartless. And while the gunman shot "randomly," it was also with an unmistakable precision.

Death is always a surreal event. It marks the natural conclusion of a unique cycle, which, like birth, isgrotesque and beautiful in equal measure.

Yet when death is inflicted by force, we can never speak of the unspeakable loss and can never express the torment a victim experienced during that brush with mortality. For some, it might be an endless eternity; for others, a fleetingly swift one.

And for those who fell during that battle, through tributes and condolences we remember and commemorate the memories they left. During these times, we mourn and grieve with empathy for the victims. Our roles as part of the community become especially magnified, and our responses become a warning that such behavior of acting upon others is a behavior nobody tolerates.

Nonetheless, where does the Virginia Tech massacre leave us?

It is important to understand the reasons why the massacre occurred in the first place. Cho Seung-Hui has frequently been described by his peers as a socially isolated individual. Twice, his professors were shocked by the severity of the plays he composed, in which he described certain themes of revenge and bloodlust in graphic detail.

And he acted as a result of societal disillusionment. The moral collapse of "what he considered the more privileged students on campus" was cited as the underlying motivation behind his actions. The signs were there, but it wasn't acted upon sufficiently enough, due to both external as well as internal factors. This shouldn't be a blame game about responsibilities, though.

From a national perspective, the blame game about gun-possession merits reverberates even louder. It seems fatalistic to conclude that the event was an inevitable conclusion of a gun-toting policy, yet the tragedy was always a possible consequence of weapons possession.

Others have questioned the long delay of immediate action being taken to identify the cause of the problem, which would have possibly allowed for more stringent security measures. More recent revelations have revealed that investigators were misled by a bad lead, hence the lag time of two hours between the first killings and the rest. Yet in a sprawling, large campus such as Virginia Tech, it would arguably have been difficult for instant prevention policies to be successfully implemented at such short notice, but action was still necessary.

Moreover, Seung-Hui's nationality also meant that fears of future possible racial recriminations against the Korean and Asian community have been expressed. Yet it is foolhardy to shift the blame onto one race simply because of this incident. Emotions do not choose, irrespective of race or nationality. Violence, a frightening product born out of various factors, can overwhelm regardless of one's status, wealth or privilege.

It is heartwarming though, to hear about the character and bravery displayed by those who acted selflessly in trying to protect their fellow brethren while in the knowledge that they might fall in the process: "Students said Professor Liviu Librescu had blocked the door to his classroom to prevent the gunman from entering." Professor Librescu fell, but for his courage he was anointed by President Bush as the first hero of the Virginia Tech massacre. And many of the victims were souls who never got to live longer than they deserved, and their actions are reminders that we all have the capacity to do good during the most crucial moments.

The fundamental unity of this diverse nation is built on trust. And, while the gory Virginia Tech events have been appalling, it is during these times that we should all gather together as a people, and look toward solving what has become our challenge.


Original Source:<a href=>The California Aggie - April 19, 2007</a>


Zach Kun Lin Han


The California Aggie




Sara Hood


Eddie Lee <[email protected]>




Zach Kun Lin Han, “Zach Kun Lin Han: The Virginia tragedy,” The April 16 Archive, accessed September 19, 2017,