Here’s How South Korea Is Reacting to the Atlanta Spa Shootings

“The American society must face the serious reality of racial hate crimes,” a South Korean newspaper said in an editorial.
Junhyup Kwon
Seoul, KR
March 18, 2021, 4:20pm
South Korea Atlanta Spa Asian Hate Crime Racism
Activists in Washington join a vigil in response to the Atlanta spa shootings on March 17. Photo: ALEX WONG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

The shooting rampage in the Atlanta area this week received widespread coverage in South Korea on Thursday.

South Korea’s foreign ministry has confirmed that four of the eight victims were of Korean descent, a fact highlighted by some of the country’s biggest newspapers, whose headlines read:

Atlanta Shooting Shows How Police Are Failing Asian Women

  • A Hate Crime?… Four Women of Korean Descent Killed in Atlanta Serial Shooting (The Dong-a Ilbo)
  • “[I’m] Going to Kill All Asians”: Shooting at People of Korean Descent (The Chosun Ilbo)
  • Four People of Korean Descent Shot to Death… Likely Asian Hate Crime (The Hankyoreh)
  • Four Women of Korean Descent Died Due to Serial Shootings at Massage Parlors (The Kyunghyang Shinmun)

Eight of the 10 biggest South Korean newspapers put the Tuesday attacks on their front page, some accompanied by analysis.

South Korea Atlanta Spa Asian Hate Crime Racism

The Thursday editions of Chosun Ilbo (left) and Dong-a Ilbo.

The Hankyoreh, a popular liberal-leaning newspaper, said in an editorial that “the American society must face the serious reality of racial hate crimes and take effective measures to ensure that all citizens of all races are not threatened with violence and live a safe daily life.”

Two other victims were also of Asian descent and two were white. In total, the shooter, who is white, killed seven women.

Captain Jay Baker, the spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, said Wednesday that the suspected gunman, Robert Aaron Long, was having a “bad day” on Tuesday when he allegedly opened fire at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. Baker said that Long admitted to the shootings but denied that they were motivated by race.

The shooting spree has put Asian communities across the country on alert, coming amid a rising number of hate crimes targeting Asians in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. The attack also evoked a history of violence against women and fetishization of those of Asian ethnicities.

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The Chosun Ilbo, the most prominent conservative newspaper in South Korea, published four different stories focused on the Atlanta shootings. The outlet stressed that people of Asian and Korean descent were targeted, citing a Korean-language outlet in Atlanta and other U.S. media. 

Korean media also cited a report by Stop AAPI Hate, which collects data about discrimination against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, suggesting that Koreans are the second-largest ethnic group that reported experiencing hate incidents from March 2020 to the end of February this year.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea expressed condolences for the victims’ families, the presidential spokesman said in a briefing on Thursday.

On Wednesday, hashtags such as #StopAsianHate, #AsiansAreHuman, #인종차별 (racism), were trending among South Korean users of Twitter.

In an Instagram post, South Korea-based rapper Jay Park said, “Lend a hand or your voice. Check up on your Asian homies and their families. What's happening is not ok. Spread Love not hate,” accompanied by a black image with the words “#StopAsianHate.”

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