Daniel Kim, a college senior, told his family he wouldn’t be coming home for Thanksgiving. Weeks later, he was dead. And the search for the unknowable began.
story by HELIN JUNG
photo illustration by INKI CHO
Daniel Sun Kim sat in the driver’s seat of his black Hyundai Sonata on Dec. 9, 2007, gripping a semi-automatic Bersa Thunder Ultra Compact pistol in his hand. It was a Sunday, an unseasonably warm winter afternoon in Christians- burg, Va., a place known as the onetime home of Davy Crockett, the site of the state’s first recorded rifle duel. It is a city that touts “progressive small town living at its best.”
A 21-year-old senior at Virginia Tech, Daniel had come to this point be- fore—who knows how many times?— and here he was again.
In April of that year, another Korean American senior at V-Tech, 23-year-old Seung-Hui Cho, had also found himself contemplating the end, though not just his own. Cho took the path of infamy and extraordinary bloodshed, firing 170 shots across the university’s Blacksburg campus, killing 32 people and injuring 25 others in a spree that led to his disfiguring demise.
Eight months later, here Daniel was, alone, staring down the barrel of his gun. The car was parked outside a Target. Every bullet was in its place. This time around, he swore he would go through with it.
And he did.
From the very beginning, Daniel had been bright. Too bright, his father, William Kim, says. Like his father—who immigrated to the United States from Korea when he was 18—Daniel never studied, but that was of course because he never needed to. “There’s nothing for me to teach him,” a schoolteacher once told Daniel’ s parents. The homework got done and the grades were always better than middling, so Daniel’ s parents left him alone. Continue Reading »
North Korea Orchestra in Paris Shows Kim Jong Un Opening Window on World
North Korea’s Unhasu orchestra will leave its crowd-pleasing “Cantata to Comrade Kim Jong Il” at home in favor of Brahms’s first symphony when it plays in Paris on March 14.
For the three-year-old orchestra, the Paris event is its first performance abroad. The joint concert with the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra at the Salle Pleyel in Paris will be conducted by South Korea’s Myung-Whun Chung. Together with events this month in Washington and New York, it may signal the willingness of Kim Jong Un, the new leader of the so-called “Hermit Kingdom,” to reduce its isolation.
N.Koreans Keep Fleeing Despite Tough Border Controls
North Koreans continue to escape across the border to China despite stricter controls in the wake of global uproar about the looming repatriation of defectors by Beijing, activist group Good Friends said Wednesday.
The group said a five-member family from Musan, North Hamgyong Province suddenly disappeared on Feb. 17. Although the entire border nearby was shut down and searched, nobody was able to find them. Five days later, a worker at a cooperative farm in Onsong, North Hamgyong Province was arrested for crossing the river, and another person was arrested in China after making it across. On Feb. 23, two women who tried to cross the river from Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province were arrested as well.
Nuclear envoys of the rival Koreas in New York
Associated Press via Google News
Nuclear envoys of the rival Koreas both addressed a closed-door conference on security in Northeast Asia on Thursday but there was no word on whether they spoke to each other.
The two-day, academic forum in New York is an opportunity to break the ice between communist North Korea and U.S.-allied South Korea, which in turn could nudge forward efforts to restart long-stalled, six-nation talks on the North’s nuclear program.
$17.8 million award in jet crash appealed
San Diego Union-Tribune
The government will appeal a federal judge’s decision to award $17.8 million to the family of three people killed in University City when a Marine jet fighter crashed into their home in 2008.
The formal notice of appeal in the case brought by Don Yoon and his relatives was filed Tuesday and did not specify what the government will contest. Kevin Boyle, one of the lawyers for Yoon and his family, said that the only thing the government could argue was that the award by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller was excessive.
Nexon’s Daniel Kim plots move into social and mobile games
For the better part of a decade, Korea’s Nexon has been making online games that users can start playing for free. If they want, they can pay real money for virtual goods such as swords or decorations. Now the game industry is shifting in that direction. Nexon, which raised $1.2 billion in a public offering in December on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, also plans to do its own shifting into mobile and social games.
Daniel Kim became chief executive of Nexon America two years ago, and the company has become the mammal among the dinosaurs in the video game business. We sat down with Kim recently to discuss the state of Nexon and the game industry. Here is an edited transcript.
Tech officials admit errors in shooting timeline
AP via Google News
Virginia Tech’s initial timeline of the 2007 mass killing had errors in it, university officials acknowledged Thursday during a trial on the school’s response to the shootings.
The timeline is at the heart of a wrongful death lawsuit that claims Virginia Tech administrators attempted to cover their missteps after the first shootings on campus, and the 30 slayings that occurred 2 ½ hours later.
The suit was brought by the parents of two slain students. The parents have said if a specific warning had been issued earlier, some people might have survived the shooting spree by Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people and then himself.
The Crossbow Incident: A South Korean’s breaking point
Los Angeles Times
Now, five years later, the entire South Korean judiciary system is under siege, and the professor, free after serving time in prison for attempted murder, has become an underground hero of sorts.
Prosecutors called Kim Myung-ho a terrorist during his 2007 criminal trial, in which he contended that he had meant only to scare Judge Park Hong-woo. The judge had just ruled against him in a wrongful-termination lawsuit and was returning to his apartment when the attack took place.
But for some, Kim is a Korean version of the Michael Douglas character in the 1993 film “Falling Down,” an average citizen who became unhinged by his anger at society.
Yoon Suk Yi Of Strasburg Charged In Road Rage Incident Cracked Windshield, Hit Other Driver In the Face Say Police
According to Virginia State Police, Yoon Suk Yi was driving a Mercedes Benz that swerved in front of a Toyota Camry heading east on Interstate 66 near the 63 mile marker at approximately 7:30 a.m. When the Toyota driver honked his horn, the Yi allegedly stopped the Mercedes and got out of the car. State police say he then walked to the Toyota and hit the windshield with his forearm, cracking the windshield. The Toyota’s driver then rolled down his window and, according to police, Yi struck him in the face.
Lotus to be Civic Center Plaza’s next art piece
San Francisco Examiner
First it was a giant six-armed Buddha, then an illuminated dragon boat. Now, the Civic Center Plaza — fast becoming San Francisco’s prized venue for large-scale art — will showcase a 24-foot tall motorized red lotus flower.
Entitled “Breathing Flower,” the red lotus will have motorized bright-red fabric leaves that will open and close, a design that’s supposed to imitate the movement of the real thing. It will rest on a 12-square-foot base that’s 8 feet tall.
The sculpture, by Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa, is expected to appear in the plaza May 18 and remain until September. It is timed to coincide with the Asian Art Museum’s “Phantoms of Asia,” the institution’s first large-scale exhibition of contemporary art.
Vancouver devotees bemoan the end of the Coma Food Truck
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
Like mourners at a gravesite, people lined up Thursday on Railway Avenue in Vancouver’s industrial east side to get their last Korean barbecue tacos and bibimbaps from the popular Coma Food Truck, now in its final week of existence.
The predominantly 30-something crowd also expressed a wild variety of condolences – a sign of the passion and seriousness with which Vancouverites have become attached to food trucks.
Charleston exports a slippery, slimy treat
Statesman Journal (Salem, Ore.)
Hagfish feed on dead and dying sea creatures by burrowing into their carcasses and licking away organs and tissue with tooth-covered tongues.
Scientists know little about the prehistoric creature. But the blind, 17-inch-long invertebrates that live on the ocean floor are a delicacy in Korean cuisine.
In the early 2000s, overfishing had seriously depleted the Korean hagfish stock, so processors began looking for markets elsewhere in the world, including New England, British Columbia and the West Coast.
US Police Departments Face Challenges Recruiting Asian-Americans
Voice of America
As the number of Asian immigrants swell in many U.S. cities, police departments are struggling to recruit the Asian-American officers needed to adequately serve their communities.
“If you look around metropolitan areas, there are not many Asian officers compared to the Asian population,” said Fairfax Country Police Department Detective Lam Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American who also serves on the Asian-American Law Enforcement Association (AALEA), which promotes better relations between the police and the community.
Nguyen said this widespread problem is making it harder for police to build the trust and communication needed to be effective with the people they serve.