Va. Gunman's Family Members Recall Quiet, Shy Child

A portrait of a quiet, cold, well-behaved child with speech impediments was painted by relatives and family members of the Virginia Tech gunman. Yet from the description of all who knew Seung Hui Cho on a personal level, there was a distant tone that separated the 23-year-old gunman from relatives who still struggle to believe their own son, brother or grandson was the mastermind behind the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

"We are humbled by this darkness. We feel hopeless, helpless and lost. This is someone that I grew up with and loved. Now I feel like I didn't know this person," said Cho's sister, Sun-Kyung Cho, in the first statement released by the family since the incident.

Prior to the Cho family's statement to The Associated Press on Friday, relatives in South Korea had already begun to reflect on the child they knew in Korea and had lost touch with when he emigrated to the United States in 1992.

His grandfather had described Cho as a "well-behaved" child but troubling his parents because of his speech problems, according to AP. His relatives had even feared that he was mute.

"From the beginning, he wouldn't answer me…He was very cold," said his grand-aunt Kim Yang Soon, according to CNN. She added that Cho's mother "said she couldn't deal with him."

"Who would have known he would cause such trouble," she added.

His grandfather also told the Korea Times that Cho "was so shy that he wouldn't let me hug him."

While living in Korea, Cho's parents had ran a small used-book store in Seoul before moving to America to find a better life. The family was poor in Korea and was said to live in a small basement apartment – the cheapest unit in a multi-apartment building, according to Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's largest newspaper.

Despite all of Cho's problems, his sister had said that they have "always been a close, peaceful and loving family."

"My brother was quiet and reserved, yet struggled to fit in. We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence," said Sun-Kyung Cho in the issued family statement.

Meanwhile in Korea, there has been widespread mourning and feelings of shame that a South Korean committed the massacre, although Cho was part of what Korean Americans call the "1.5 generation" – children who immigrated to the United States and who live in both Korean and American cultures but sometimes feel completely at home in neither.

South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun had issued four messages of condolence and apology since the shooting on Monday, according to AP. And 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, according to CBS/AP.

One internet user, identified only by the ID iknijmik, on the country's top Web portal site, Naver, wrote, "As a South Korean, I feel apologetic to the Virginia Tech victims," according to CBS/AP.

Koreans are known to have a group mentality where an individual's success or fame is pride for the whole country, as was the case for the once-renowned scientist Hwang Woo-Suk and for half-Korean Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward. Likewise, in this group-oriented culture, one Korean's shame is viewed as disgrace for the whole country.

"Koreans think very much in terms of national identity rather than individual identity," said Michael Breen, author of the book "The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies," according to AP.

In the United States, meanwhile, Americans, who have a more individual mentality culture, have mostly held the gunman responsible for the massacre, though many are questioning whether society could have done anything to prevent the tragedy from taking place.

As Richard Cizik, the National Association of Evangelicals' vice president for governmental affairs, explained to The Christian Post earlier this week, "We have all been given free will…we do not blame the parents or sibling."

Instead, Cizik extended comfort to Cho's family, reminding them that they too are loved just as the victims and their families are loved.

"Our hearts go out to them and we will be praying for them and want to help them in any way we can to get through this," said Cizik, who called on Christians to help immigrants such as Cho's family who may not have the connections and help they need.

Throughout the week, there have been candlelight vigils, religious services, online tributes among other events to commemorate the innocent lives lost in the Virginia Tech shootings. South Korea's ambassador to the U.S. has even proposed that Koreans living in America take part in a 32-day fast to honor each of the victims, according to AP.