The link between the success or failure of South Korean firms and a sense of national pride or shame extends also to the actions of ethnic Koreans who become famous — or infamous.
This was true of the 2007 Virginia Tech University shooting rampage in which South Korea-born student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and then himself. After the news reached South Korea, many in America were surprised by the outpouring of emotion, which included candlelight vigils in the streets and widespread expressions of shame. Even though Cho left South Korea young and grew up in the U.S., some South Koreans felt responsibility.
Separately, when the French president appointed Fleur Pellerin, who was adopted by French parents as an infant, as minister of digital economy, the South Korean media aggressively covered her life story, even though Pellerin doesn’t speak Korean and had not visited South Korea before being appointed minister.
AP writer Elizabeth Shim contributed to this report from Seoul.
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