By Michael Juel-LarsenSister of Virginia gunman belongs to Class of 2004Wed Apr 18, 2007 22:44
Sun-Kyung Cho is a graduate of Princeton University and works
as a contractor for the United States State Department
office which oversees
Sister of Virginia gunman belongs to Class of 2004
By Michael Juel-Larsen
Princetonian Senior Writer
Photo by Jim Young/Reuters
Law enforcement officials and members of the media converge on the family house of Cho Seung-Hui in Centreville, Va., yesterday. Cho's parents and sister had left the premises before media arrived.
Though Monday's shootings at Virginia Tech had already cast a shadow over campus, the news yesterday morning that the gunman's older sister is a recent Princeton alumna brought the tragedy even closer to home.
Sun-Kyung Cho '04 was an economics major who interned at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok during the summer before her senior year and wrote briefly for The Daily Princetonian. She now works as a "State Department contractor," The Washington Post reported yesterday, and was listed on Princeton's alumni directory as living in Centreville, Va., with her parents.
The shooter was identified early yesterday morning as 23-year-old Virginia Tech senior Cho Seung-Hui. Later in the morning, the Chicago Tribune's "The Swamp" blog reported that Cho had a sister who graduated from the University.
Sun-Kyung Cho's and Cho Seung-Hui's home addresses in Centreville, Va., are identical. Reached on her cell phone yesterday afternoon, Sun-Kyung declined to be interviewed for this article.
At Princeton, Cho wrote her senior thesis on "ethnic enclave[s] and wage earning" among Korean immigrants in California. Her thesis adviser, economics professor Orley Ashenfelter, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In the past two days, intense national media scrutiny has been focused on the Cho family as the public struggles to understand the shootings.
University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt '96 said the Office of Communications had received inquiries from at least seven media organizations yesterday about whether the shooter's sister had gone to Princeton, including ABC, CNN, the Newark Star-Ledger and The Washington Post.
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Cliatt said she could not disclose any information on Sun-Kyung Cho besides the fact that she had been a student, what she studied and when she graduated.
Cliatt added that she also received a call from an alumna who was unrelated to the shooter and whose last name was also Cho. "She was concerned that she was receiving a lot of calls" from reporters regarding the shootings, Cliatt said.
Marc Fisher '80, a columnist with The Washington Post who was at the Chos' Centreville townhouse yesterday along with dozens of other journalists, described the situation as a "puzzle with virtually blank pieces."
Close media scrutiny of the family's life was motivated, he said, by a "very human need to know and understand."
"Partly out of courtesy and partly out of the urge that people have to just find meaning, there's a rush to delve into the shooter's life," he said, "and usually we come up fairly empty in that pursuit, and the competitive juices get flowing, so you end up with a lot of scenes that are almost comical, such as having 50 reporters standing outside an empty townhouse."
The Chos had been escorted from their home before Fisher got to Centreville and have not spoken to the press.
Fisher said the media's close attention to the Cho family would likely continue for at least another week. "I think we're just at the very beginning of that process of trying to figure out who he was and the family story and how they got here and how he got to such an extreme point," he said.
Cho was born in South Korea. His family lived in Seoul, staying in a rented basement apartment. Landlord Lim Bong-ae states that "I didn't know what (Cho's father) did for a living. But they lived a poor life," Lim told the newspaper. "While immigrating, (Cho's father) said they were going to America because it is difficult to live here and that it's better to live in a place where he is unknown."
Cho immigrated to the United States in September 1992, when he was 8 years old, with his two parents and an older sister. His older sister, Sun-Kyung Cho is a graduate of Princeton University and works as a contractor for the United States State Department office which oversees the money in American aid for Iraq after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He was a lawful permanent resident of the United States and a South Korean citizen. Cho had a permanent address in Centreville, Virginia, an unincorporated community in the western part of largely affluent Fairfax County, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Washington, D.C. and a few miles directly south of Washington Dulles International Airport. Cho graduated in 2003 from Westfield High School in the Chantilly community of Fairfax County.
Cho was an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, majoring in English, although he had told others he was a business major.
Virginia Tech massacre
Fresh Intelligence : Radar Online
Cho Seung-Hui, Sun-Kyung Cho It seems Virginia Tech school shooter Cho Sueng-Hui wrote plays. An AOL staffer who shared a class with Sueng-Hui sent ...
Interning abroad expands students' horizons
By Karin Dienst
Princeton NJ -- Overseas travel is on the itinerary for many Princeton students during their undergraduate careers. But some students take their travels an extra mile by combining them with public service internships. According to the students who recently did both, working to make a difference really can make an imprint on their lives.
Forty-nine Princeton undergraduates spent the past summer pursuing internships supported by Princeton's International Internship Program (IIP). Established in 2001, the fledgling program enables students to work for up to eight weeks with a variety of organizations around the world. IIP emphasizes opportunities in the fields of education, health services, human rights and sustainable agriculture.
According to Elena Uribe, director of the program, IIP is distinctive compared to what most universities offer in that it helps students seek placements and provides funding, on average $2,000 to $2,500 per student. A goal is to support students even more by increasing institutional funding; currently IIP is backed financially by the Program in Latin American Studies, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Pace Center for Community Service and the Office of Religious Life.
"Working closely with the Study Abroad Program, IIP ensures internationalism as a part of undergraduate education at Princeton," said Uribe. "In many cases, the internship changes the way students think about their majors and offers ideas for their senior theses and careers."
IIP also is collaborating with the Princeton in Africa and Princeton in Asia programs to create new summer initiatives. Through various academic departments, undergraduates also can arrange paid summer programs, such as the German Summer Work Program, Princeton in France and the Ishikawa internships in Japan.
Building on her own international experience after 18 years with the Mexican foreign service, Uribe continually explores and vets new possibilities for students, paying close attention to the evaluations funded students complete upon their return to campus.
This fall, five students told the Weekly Bulletin about their international internships: Sun-Kyung Cho, a senior; Avril David, a junior; Iva Kleinova, a sophomore; Marilyn Waite, a sophomore; and James Walter, a senior.
Sun-Kyung Cho -- Bangkok, Thailand
Her interest sparked by a previous summer working at the State Department's International Labor Office in Washington, D.C., Sun-Kyung Cho, an economics major from Centreville, Va., wanted to observe actual labor conditions in a developing country. After consulting with Uribe, she secured an internship through the State Department with the Economics Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. The internship was unpaid, but IIP provided enough funding for most of Cho's traveling and living expenses.
"They were the most amazing three months of my life," said Cho. She worked with a labor officer on a wide range of issues, which included visits to factories. The experience was so profound that after returning to campus, she changed the focus of her senior thesis to a more labor-related topic.
"We went to Mae Sot, a town on the Thai-Burmese border, to observe working and living conditions of Burmese migrant workers," said Cho. "At two of the sites, conditions were in an unspeakable state with no running water and crammed rooms housing up to 30 people. Most factories in the area make ceramic and garment products and specifically hire young Burmese girls, whose small hands are deemed best suited for this type of manufacturing work. It was humbling to see and changed my perspectives in many ways."
With housing provided by the embassy, Cho said she missed the possibility of benefiting culturally from living with a Thai family, but she made the most of her free time to explore Bangkok.
"I found that the best way to get to know the city was taking the skytrain to random locations and walking around for a couple of hours," she said. "I think it is always easy for Americans to maintain an American way of life abroad. The best thing is to avoid these traps and go out there and immerse yourself in a new culture."
Killer's Family Caught in a Whirl of Curiosity
Washington Post, DC - Apr 17, 2007
She used to talk mainly to the Chos' daughter, Sun-Kyung, a 2004 graduate of Princeton, who accompanied her parents as they left for work each morning
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