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Killer’s Sister Issues Apology “For My Brother’s Unspeakable Actions”

by Planet Blacksburg Staff
April 20, 2007

The sister of the killer in the massacre at Virginia Tech Monday has issued an apology, distributed to the Associated Press Friday by a North Carolina lawyer representing the family.

“He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare,” said the statement prepared by the killer’s sister, Sun-Kyung Cho.

The statement was issued Friday as mourners across the state of Virginia, indeed the world, wore orange and maroon for the Commonwealth’s official day of mourning, a day marked by pealing church bells and services honoring the fallen.

“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,” the sister said. “We 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.”

As a symbolic statement, Planet Blacksburg has made an editorial decision not to publish the killer’s name. This decision is not an expression of hatred for the killer, but our refusal to give him what he desired in killing 32 Virginia Tech students and faculty Monday morning and wounding nearly dozen more people in a shooting rampage.

During a two-hour interlude in the shootings, the killer apparently mailed photographs and video of himself to NBC to garner publicity and dramatize his actions.

NBC’s airing of photographs and video Wednesday night served to further injure Virginia Tech’s grieving community. Wade Smith, a lawyer from Raleigh, N.C., gave the statement to the AP after the 23-year-old killer’s family contacted him. Both Smith and the family declined to answer questions.

“Our family is so very sorry for my brother's unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us,” said Sun-Kyung Cho.

The sister is a 2004 Princeton University graduate now working as a contractor for the federal government. Her contract is with the State Department and her work reportedly involves handling American aid for Iraq.

“We pray for their families and loved ones who are experiencing so much excruciating grief. And we pray for those who were injured and for those whose lives are changed forever because of what they witnessed and experienced,” the killer’s sister said. “Each of these people had so much love, talent and gifts to offer, and their lives were cut short by a horrible and senseless act.”

The sister said the killer’s family will “do whatever we can to help authorities understand why these senseless acts happened. We have many unanswered questions as well.”

According to various press reports, the family remains in seclusion guarded by the Virginia State Police. ”

Comments (46)

I hope that people realize the strength it took for this young woman to come out in public. My heart goes out to her and her parents for the pain that this tragedy has put them through.

Neal | April 21, 2007 12:09 AM

It's not your fault nor is it your parents fault. As parents we try and teach our children right from wrong. When they are adults, they go their own ways and do their own things. God loans us children to raise and take care of. We can't control all their actions. My son is almost 28 and he does what he wants to do. My son once told me "Mom, the trouble I get into now is not your doing, it's mine" He is a good person but has a drinking problem. Alcohol controls my son, I don't. I'm praying for you and your family. You lost a loved one too. It's a hard thing to deal with. God Bless you and your family.

Kathy Clark | April 21, 2007 12:19 AM

Sun-Kyung Cho, I know everyone appreciated the statement you have made, and how hard, and painful it must have been for you to make, I pray for your family and hope you can heal with the rest of us Virginians. Please do not blame yourseves in any way, no one could have foreseen the tragedy that took place.

Chris | April 21, 2007 1:04 AM

I cannot imagine how difficult this week has been for the immediate friends and families of the 32 victims. During the past couple days, I also started thinking about the killer's own family who also lost their son / brother, in the worst possible way. This must be compounded by the shame, sense of guilt, and sorrow they now bear as a consequence of his actions. I pray for them too and hope they can find the strength to eventually regain their lives, especially Ms. Cho who is a brave young woman for representing herself and her parents during this difficult time.

Candice | April 21, 2007 3:04 AM

I read the comments from Ms. Cho and we grieve for her family. The pain and suffering you and your family are bearing right now is just as unimaginable as those in mourning over the deaths of loved ones whose lives were taken in the blink of an eye. You, too, have lost a loved one. 1Peter 3:8 says to be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving and compassionate. That goes for all of us. Chapter 5 tells us to stay alert, that the devil is poised to pounce and would like to catch us napping. Stay strong dear family. You have done nothing wrong. You, too, are in our prayers. Pray hard!

CJ in NC | April 21, 2007 9:49 AM

We at ForDIA are really concerned and grieved by this tragidy. It is shocking! Nevertheless, our major concern is the long lasting solution to put to an end, such tragic acts. They should not happen anymore. But do we have the governance and cultural systems and in place? The US Government should reflect about and act immediately to arrest the American gun culture. The world does not like guns but progress and sustainable development.
Can the US Government lead the others to inhibit proliferation of Small Arms and light weapons in the world? America should do something; the policy on its people's 'gun-loving culture' to end these otherwise regular tragidies.

Bubelwa Kaiza | April 21, 2007 10:21 AM

Bubelwa, this isn't the place..

Anna | April 21, 2007 10:30 AM

Firstly; my heart and prayers go out to all the family and friends who were impacted by this horrific and senseless tragedy.
Secondly; I applaud your decision not to publish his name. I had just been talking to a friend several days ago before this tragedy even occurred, of how the media sometimes (not always), but sometimes and a lot of times, causes more drama and problems. And in this case, an unspoken glorification of one of the sickest and violent people in our american history. There should have been a statement made of the items he sent and the assurance that it was all being handed over to authorities, but that as a major american network they would not give credit or dignification to him for not only his horrendous murder rampage .... but his dramatization of it. Is there such a thing anymore of reporting news, but having a heart and conscience while doing it??
Again my heart stretches over the miles, to all of you for your losses and pain!!

Cheryl | April 21, 2007 11:33 AM

Thank you, Ms. Sun-Kyung Cho, for your peace and courage during this difficult time for the families of those who lost their loved one, the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg Community as well as you, your family and the nation. My heart goes out to you today. When I was your age I was "hitting bottom" from a serious illness: addiction, which was arrested permanently (I am 50 now) when I was 29 years old. I can't even imagine the young lady I was when I was the age you are now having anything like your dignity and sensitivity. I'm not even sure I am there yet after 20+ years clean and sober from any mind / mood altering chemicals. Please know my family and I have added you and your parents to our Prayer List today. Thank you so much for speaking.

Christina F. | April 21, 2007 1:46 PM

My heart goes out to the victims and their loved ones. My prayers are also with the Cho family. This tradgedy isn't about being Korean or any other nationality. It has to do with our mental health system across the country letting people down.

Diana | April 21, 2007 1:57 PM

Sun Cho,

While your statement on behalf of you and your family is very touching. Don't wear a scarlet letter of shame! Life is too short, to blame one family, one race, one university and it's campus police for the trauma cause. I have no doubt if you and or your parents knew of his mental state all of you would have tried to stop him.

I hope your faith keeps your family intact and able to move forward one day at a time. Your brother no matter how hateful is still your brother. It should not stop your love for him.

Make your life something special to help your parents ease their loss and pain.

Elaine | April 21, 2007 6:12 PM

As I pray for the victims and their families, I also pray for the Cho family. They have also suffered the loss of a loved one and the great pains associated with the tragedy. Best Wishes,

James | April 21, 2007 11:33 PM

Sun Cho,
I have no advice, no great wisdom to pass on. But know your brave words have touched my soul. I pray for you and your family.

Vicky | April 21, 2007 11:37 PM

Ms Cho -

You Are A Brave Woman And Obviously Highly Intelligent. The World Thanks You For Your Statement, And Ill Br Praying Not Only for The VTECH Community And Families, But Also For Your Family, Cause Regardless Of Your Brothers Mental State And Actions, Your Family Also Became A Victim That Tragic Day..

Melissa | April 22, 2007 12:01 AM

The shooters family are victims also. No
parent desires to raise a killer and no sibling can imagine such.In unity there is strength and in prayer and forgiveness there is restoration. I will
pray for VT daily and the family of the shooter. Please stop referring to his sister as the killers sister. This is hard enough for her! We should not label

Maria Prevost | April 22, 2007 4:50 AM

I forget specifically where I first read
someone writing that 33 people died there
that day, but it carries special meaning
in my memory.
I feel that for each of us, near and far;
whatever moment we can see this person
(I seldom name him anymore) as a human
who did something rather than a monster
or an object of any kind (dehumanization
is a HORRIBLE thing) is the beginning of
our healing and our only hope that this
kind of thing can someday go unrepeated!

Hundreds of millions of people to this
day cannot do that with Adolf Hitler.
How many more "Hitler's Birthdays" must
we just simply endure nervously

marco | April 22, 2007 7:19 AM

First my heart goes out to all students and familys I had three and lost two so I have an understanding of what it is like. Please try to understand everything has a reason.If you don't believe it look around your school and the whole world right now. New friends,and alliances that probably never would have happened. Secondly I agree wth Anna,Bubela shame on you, this is neither the place or the time.Ms Cho you are a very brave young lady. May God bless you all

George | April 22, 2007 6:59 PM

My heart goes out to everyone that has been affected by this horrible tradgedy. This will wake some people up to what's going on in the world and make them step up to make it better out there for all of us. I can't begin to imagine how Miss Cho and her family are feeling right now but know that the way you have stood up for your family at this time has inspired others to do the same. God bless you.

Brandi L. | April 22, 2007 9:07 PM

The place that I call home is Bramwell,WV.........a little over an hour from VT.....I was driving across the midwest Monday morning and turned the XM Radio on, to hear about the events at WAJ, but at that time, there was only one reported death. I awaited the news conference,like everyone else, and heard the "ball park" estimate that the campus police chief gave of 20 dead. I will never forget the sound of the air being sucked out of the lungs of the reporters, and it seemed out of the the day went on, the news turned worse, and worse.....I would like to say that this has had a profound effect on me, and I am still in shock. As a mother of 3 children, and a grandmother to 1 grand daughter who is nearly 2 yrs old, I can NOT imagine what all the families of the victims, slain and wounded are going through, and I pray a selfish prayer, that I never find out. The bible says that God will not put more on us than we can bear, and I know that this seems unrealistic right now, but you all will come through this, stronger than you ever were before. I am reminded of the old Hymn "Farther Along". It says this..."Farther along,we'll know all about it. Farther along we'll,understand why.Cheer up my brother!Live in the Sunshine!We'll understand it,all by and by."

There is an answer for everything, and a reason for everything.God's ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts,God Bless U All @ VTECH..........GO HOKIES!!!!
Robin Edmonds

Robin E. | April 22, 2007 10:48 PM

my heart goes out to the cho family and to all those affected by the terrible tragedy. please please dont forget that the victims are no longer in pain but in a beautiful place now although we may never understand but forever they will be in our hearts<3

stephanie | April 22, 2007 11:02 PM



RAY J. | April 23, 2007 12:25 AM

Thank you for all the coverage on the Virginia Tech tragedy. As a college student myself, this story has hit me hard...even though I live thousands of miles away in California. I am a psychology major and knowing that the killer had mental health issues bothered me even more.

My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims, and Virginia Tech as well as the Cho family...god bless each of you!

Sylvia | April 23, 2007 12:59 AM

My prayers are with all of you, students,faculty, family, friends and the Cho family and with the police and responders. The students at VT are some pretty outstanding people the way they have handeled this tragedy.
May God bless and comfort all.
From St.Louis, Missouri

Julie Krbec | April 23, 2007 2:11 AM

My heart goes out to the Student's and the Family's at VT, I also send my prayers to the Cho Family, It was not your Fault, Life sometimes feeds us a bad hand. Just remember all the students are Angels watching over all of us. Also Every one has a Judgment day of there own. I pray for you all !

Pat Bowen | April 23, 2007 4:24 AM

My heart felt prayers are for the families that lost their loved ones. May God help them ease the pain.

Syd | April 23, 2007 4:24 AM

I live in Wisconsin and I just wanted to express my heartfelt sorrow to the families, friends, and victims of the events at VT. I have been reading the messages for the past couple of days and just came across one from someone named stacie who felt that since we don't have a moment of silence everyday for the ones lost in Iraq that we should not have one for VT is out of order. The men and women that we lose on a daily basis in Iraq will never be forgotten, they were someone's husbands, wives, children, etc to be that shallow at something this tragic really pisses me off. You should have just kept that comment to yourself. I truly hope that over time each and every person that was involved in that horrible incident whether directly or otherwise with find the strength and solice that they need to make it through each and every day. Time will evidently heel the wounds but it will never allow you to forget what happen or the friends and family that were lost. Our prayers and thoughts are with everyone at VT and in Blacksburg, as well as the family of the killer.
As someone else stated they have also been made a victim. No one ever wants to lose a child, I can't even begin to imagine how that must feel, just please remember that we here in Wisconsin are thinking of you and that you again are in our thoughts and prayers.

Kerry | April 23, 2007 10:29 AM

My hearts goes out to you Sun-Kyung Cho. I'm giving you the up most highest respect for the apoligy, because no one else would have said these things expecially when its not their fought for the tragidy that occured. I give everyone at Virginia Tech my condolances and I pray for the Cho family as well because hopefully you all were unaware of this students behavior and I pray no one will try to take anything out on you all. I feel that this could of went on any where and I feel just as bad as any other even though I'm in FlintMi.It could of been my family or friends so my prayers are with everyone who is experiencing pain and suffering during this time alot of people has lost a love one or had a wounded loved one. I also want to thank all the ones who were able to survive and the ones who played dead because you all lived to tell the story that we would never known otherwise so I want everyone to be strong and lets carry on because their memories will live on.I hope everyone realizes the strength its taking for the Virginia Tech families to go on,how painful it is going back to the massacure scean to get back on schudle and return to the class rooms where they lives were in danger and the slayings of there fellow classmates ans staff so please pray for one another and lets be stong.

LaRashia Jones | April 23, 2007 3:35 PM

My prayers goes out to all the people who are affected by this terrible tragety both physically and emotionally, and especially those victims who are directly impacted. No one should be blamed at this point and time, but one thing worthy to raise the awareness of us all is everyone deserve a equal respect from others. My personal thought is that your brother was teased by other students and laughed at in school, and that was a terrible thing that occured. I hope we all can learn something valuable from this costly lesson that we should repect each other equally. Just because one can not speak fluently or speak with an accent deserve to be ridiculed is wrong, very wrong, and totally wrong. Certainly that gives no excuses for his actions to kill so many innocent. I think he has received too much pressure from all aspects of our society that caused him sick and no immediately medical attention received was unacceptable. Please, no more guns in this country. That's a big part of the root of this problem. What a shame for one of the most civilized nation in the world to have these much gun violence occurring on a daily basis! The bottom line is less guns equal less gun related violence. God bless us all!

Joseph Wang | April 23, 2007 7:34 PM

I am from China, i am deeply moved not only by the courage of Ms.Cho but also the forgiveness offered by everyone who leave comments here, you guys just show me what is really a educational fair and friendly society you have built.

Jie Ren | April 23, 2007 7:52 PM

Me too. I am moved by these sincere and heart felt comments. My eyes are wet ...

American people, you have a big heart! You have certainly earned a great respect from me. I have been living in the USA for more than twenty years and have experienced the beauty of American people. Nice, friendly, supportive, and forgivable. What a great nation!

I agree with Joseph that teasing by other students and laughed at in school is a terrible thing. As a teacher or school administrator, we should do everything we can to stop any disrespectful behavior among students and to teach our students how to appreciate and respect each other. No body is perfect and everyone has something to offer. We should thank how fortunate we are when we see someone else who are less fortunate in their lives. In deed we learned something valuable from this hard lesson. God bless you all ...

Lily | April 23, 2007 9:51 PM

To Joseph Wang's comment - I don't care so much about the gun control issue, but I am "happy" (if that word can even make sense here) to see what you wrote. That's the exact sort of feeling I'm walking away from all this too - we really need to re-evalute how we treat our fellow man. What may not seem like nothing more than a joke to us could really be destroying someone else inside, and we really need to strive to be more fair and compassionate to each other.

As for Sun-Kyung - my heart really does go out for you. You were one of the first people I was thinking of, once the identity of the shooter was being released. Maybe because I have a sibling that I'm close to, I don't know why. But really, my heart does go out to you. I pray that you and your family can find peace and not blame yourselves consistently or anything for this. You've lost a loved brother in perhaps one of the most devastating ways possible, and my heart really does go out to you and whatever confusion and pain or guilt you may be feeling right now. Hang in there. Speaking as a current member of the VTech community, I wish I could be a shoulder for you to cry on but can only offer my condolences from behind a screen. Obvs again, I don't know what's going through your head, but if I can guess, let me just say - please, please don't try to blame yourself too much, or feel to overwrought with wondering whatever you could have been able to do to have prevented this. My thoughts are with whatever hidden hell your brother must have been feeling as well - just please try to find peace for yourself. It's not much, but - at least have the comfort that someone out here is really rooting for you and hoping you REALLY one day find peace from this sorrow. :)

(and lol of course, there's nothing that makes me really believe you'll even read this - but just in case...)

lvc | April 23, 2007 10:49 PM

I'm glad the journalists here chose not to publish the shooter's name. The media continue to prove themselves incapable of noble or reasonable actions.
Ms Cho, you honored your Korean heritage in apologizing, but you do not bear the stigma of your poor, tortured brother's actions. There is nothing for you or your family to apologize for. I hope you can find peace and comfort somehow and heal from this terrible trauma. We cannot replace those lost, nor restore the innocence of those injured or who witnessed the shootings. We can try to honor them, remember them, and pray for them. We can stand together that no more family or friends lose their hope or their right to joy. May you learn to laugh again, Ms Cho, and not so long from now.

Deb | April 23, 2007 11:32 PM

I'm from China, this kind of showing me what kind of charactors American is about. During darkest hours, sometimes we will find the most cherished spirit, forgiveness and faithfulness.

This is a Country like no others, I've been here for 10 years, I can't imagine how proud that day will be when I become an American citizen, indeed become an American.

Isaac Shi | April 24, 2007 1:14 AM

I understand the pervasive culture of shame that effects those from many backgrounds, including those of Korean culture.

It would be all too easy for any family in a similar situation to curl into a collective fetal position and remain mute. How positive that they chose to speak though a family member in a voice that shows great sorrow, sincerity, and yes, shame.

I am truly hopeful that good things will come of an otherwise bleak and heart-wrenching tragedy. The courage and dignity of the entire VT community, including, Ms. Cho, serves as superlative examples of civility and dignity.

Students, faculty, family members, friends: no one has hopped onto a shameless media bandwagon. Does everyone realize how remarkably exceptional this group is? Perhaps others may emulate this restrained, level-headed behavior.

We support Planet Blacksburg's decision to deny the person who killed 32 innocents fame and recognition. Our family will not forget the 32 who were taken on the 16th. We will continue to be inspired by them.

May all have peace,

Sharon | April 24, 2007 1:29 AM

I understand the pervasive culture of shame that effects those from many backgrounds, including those of Korean culture.

It would be all too easy for any family in a similar situation to curl into a collective fetal position and remain mute. How positive that they chose to speak though a family member in a voice that shows great sorrow, sincerity, and yes, shame.

I am truly hopeful that good things will come of an otherwise bleak and heart-wrenching tragedy. The courage and dignity of the entire VT community, including, Ms. Cho, serves as a superlative example of civility.

Students, faculty, family members, friends: no one has hopped onto a shameless media bandwagon. Does everyone realize how remarkably exceptional this group is? Perhaps others may emulate this restrained, level-headed behavior.

We support Planet Blacksburg's decision to deny the person who killed 32 innocents fame and recognition. Our family will not forget the 32 who were taken on the 16th. We will continue to be inspired by them.

May all have peace,

Sharon | April 24, 2007 1:31 AM

My heart truly goes out to you, Sun-kyung Cho. I couldn't help but think of your family when this occurred, and after reading your apology and some articles that revealed some parts of your brother's life, it just made me sad all over again. I know that this was indeed a tragic incident, but I couldn't even begin to imagine what excruciating pain your brother must have been going through all his life. I know that you and your family would be devastated at what happened as well as having lost a son/brother, I hope that in time you will all find peace and laughter once again. It wasn't your fault, nor your parents.
To all the family and friends involved, and to the Cho family... you'll be in my prayers... God bless.

Jennifer | April 24, 2007 1:42 AM

My hearts go to all the innocent Victims.Racism exists anywhere. We should stand up and fight rather than kill.

Sunny | April 24, 2007 4:29 AM

The Cho family is suffering more than just the loss of a son. my heart is with them.

Jen | April 24, 2007 12:31 PM

This was a heartfelt action for you to take Sun-Kyung Cho.
There is never any solace for anyone who seeks revenge and will not forgive. My heart breaks for the Cho family and all the others who lost someone dear at Virginia Tech.
I am a 61yr. old grandmother/graduate student at IUPUI and believe me when I say the whole campus grieves and is grieving for all of you. I took extra time to hug my daughters, grandsons, and great grandaughter after this happened. I also hug all of you from afar. God knows why even if we don't. I pray for you all.
Good luck. Maywin

Maywin | April 24, 2007 12:39 PM

I am a Chinese student studying in Canada, i am deeply touched by all of you,
and i hope such beautiful understanding will
always exist between different individuals, families, communities, and countries.
PS: Men at their birth, are naturally good. (人之初,性本善.) | April 24, 2007 9:57 PM

Touched by your consideration and tolerance, I only want to let you share and enjoy our Chinese good virtue quotation.
《三字经》Men at their birth, are naturally good.





young | April 26, 2007 3:52 AM

god bless you all

&#23588;&#24535;&#24378; | April 29, 2007 8:07 PM

Ms. Cho, thank you for your heartfelt words. Please know that we do not hold you and your family responsible. There is no doubt that your family is suffering so very much and we all pray for the Cho family just as much as we pray for all the families who lost a loved one on April 16. I especially asked that God place people in your lives who will help you face the challenges of such an emotional journey, that you will feel the strength, love and comfort of God helping you to move forward with your lives one moment at a time and that soon the burden of feeling helpless, hopeless and lost will subside. I hug you from afar. Thank you again, and God Bless you.

anonymous | April 29, 2007 9:03 PM

Sun Kyung Cho, your words were touching. <3 it was brave enough for you to come out & speak your words for your brother. i hope you & your family are doing good now. take care & God bless! you guys are in my prayers.

anne | May 8, 2007 12:56 PM

Good morning,

Im writing from the Island of Borneo. Hope im not too late.

my condolences to all the families affected including the Chos.

Sun Kyung, you were brave to come out with your statement. I admire you for that. Take care, stay healthy and strong.

viviena | May 13, 2007 11:22 PM

My prayers are said every day for all those who were killed or injured at Tech, but also for the Cho family. My daughter, who is 18, has been suffering from depression for several years now, and the mental health services are well-meaning but incredibly inadequate. The Chos are a brave and obviously good family, and loved their son and brother. They are not responsible for the horrible events of that day. My thoughts are with them.

kathy t | May 14, 2007 3:37 AM