Korean Students Prepare for Possible Backlash

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

The identification of the Virginia Tech shooter as a Korean-born student prompted the head of one of Michigan State University's Korean student groups to check in with others in his group.

"Just wanting to make sure my members were prepared," said Phillip Chang, a co-president of the Korean Students Association.

Prepared, he says, for possible retaliation from some who would lump the actions of one man with everyone who shares his ethnic identity.

That ethnic identity is shared by many on campus, whether it's American-born Koreans in Chang's group or Korean-born students. They're the largest group of international students on campus.

Joon Hwan Pae heads up a group of 1,300 Korean students. And like his counterpart for Korean-American students, he posted a message for his group in the wake of the shooting.

"If they have trouble, if anyone gets threatened, please let me know," Pae said, describing the posting.

The leaders of both groups tell us they haven't yet heard of any backlash on campus.

"I think it's not going to be a problem," Pae said.

But he says he's heard rumors about threats to Koreans at Virginia Tech after the shooting. And now the South Korean government has expressed concern about a backlash.

Still, Chang says after four years on campus without incident for him, he's not expecting a problem but he wants students prepared for one.

"Some people may feel without thinking, they say something," Chang said.

Both groups are advising members not to respond to a threat -- just to report it.

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