"Foundational to Korean thinking is the sense that you need to ... adjust yourself to expectations. It's very, very important that you protect your family face and reputation, recognize that whatever you do has consequences not just for you, but for others as well."
Their concerns are compounded by the feeling that they haven't yet made it into America's mainstream, Markus said. "Koreans are very aware, especially in Los Angeles, that they are sort of looked at as Koreans first. They worry that they'll be stigmatized."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday April 28, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Virginia Tech: An article in the A Section on April 19 about the reaction of ethnic communities to the Virginia Tech massacre said the Oklahoma City bombing occurred in April 1993. The bombing occurred April 19, 1995.
Asian Americans of many nationalities are sensitive to the possibility of repercussions, said Rene Astudillo, executive director of the Asian American Journalists' Assn. His group sent out an advisory to media outlets as coverage unfolded Tuesday, urging them to "avoid using racial identifiers unless there is a compelling or germane reason."
In early reports of the shooting, "the only identifier put out there was that he was Asian," Astudillo said. "That was premature as far as we are concerned, and it cast a cloud on the entire race."
But the Korean American community is by no means of one mind on the issue. "Many Koreans are upset that some members of their community are accepting this as a collective guilt," Astudillo said. "They are saying: 'This is an act of one person who may have some mental issues who may happen to be from South Korea. There is no reason for us to say we are sorry for that.' "
But Hutchinson, head of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, commended Korean American leaders for stepping up to offer apologies and prayers.
"They know there's a rush to judgment about foreigners," he said. "This sent a warning signal to them: 'We'd better get out in front of this fast.'
"Is that fair? No. But the reality is there's a long history of stereotyping Asians in this country.
"I don't think it's playing the race card," Hutchinson continued. "I don't think it's unrealistic to have a fear and a worry on the part of any minority group when a heinous act like this is done by one of your own. It's not so much collective guilt, but collective concern and worry about the impact of stereotypes on the public mind.
"None of us want to be scapegoats for the deranged act of a single man."
Times staff writer Rebecca Trounson contributed to this report.