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Oakland’s Oikos University Struggles with Massacre Anniversary

| April 2, 2013
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“We’re getting a lot of calls,” said the receptionist at Oikos University on Monday, the day before the anniversary of the horror. “But we would like to stay peaceful and quiet.”

On April 2, 2012, for reasons that might never be clear, a gunman shot 10 people, killing seven of them in and around the school. Police arrested One Goh, a Korean national, and said he quickly confessed to the crime.

Goh has pleaded not guilty, and was found incompetent to stand trial. A judge ordered him to be treated at Napa State Hospital with the goal of restoring him to sanity so he can stand trial, CBSlocal.com reported.

Before that day, few people in Oakland — let alone the rest of the world — knew about Oikos, a Bible, nursing and music school whose student body has a high quotient of immigrants. Now it finds itself famous for events beyond its control.

The school held its own service for the victims the week after the massacre, recorded in this video:

The seven who died — Tshering Bhutia, Sonam Choedon, Doris Chibuko, Grace Euhea Kim, Katleen Ping, Judith O. Seymour and Lydia H. Sim — came from around the world. But the seminary and school of music at the school are predominantly Korean, according to Yoonsil Kae, who teaches music at a sister school in Mountain View.

Kae and fellow members of the San Francisco Korean Master Chorale have been planning a concert on the one-year anniversary of the shooting ever since they heard about it, she said.

“We are so sorry for the school and the victims,” she said.

The 45-member chorale will perform Mozart’s Requiem at 7 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 114 Montecito Ave., Oakland. The concert will feature four soloists and will be accompanied by six stringed instruments and an organ. Civic leaders from Oakland are expected.

They will hold a similar concert in Sacramento on April 13 at 7 p.m. at Capital Korean Presbyterian Church, 1441 Tong Rd., El Dorado Hills.

The incident has left a difficult legacy for the Korean-American community, reports Jay Caspian Kang, himself a Korean-American, in the New York Times.

Nobody in Temescal’s Koreatown wanted to talk about Koreanness and One Goh. The head of the Korean Community Center of the East Bay gave me a lecture on how the subprime-mortgage crisis crippled the Korean community, and she implied that the problem with Korean rage lay in socioeconomic factors. I was politely escorted out of two separate Korean churches after I asked some members of the congregations if they had any concerns about the perceptions of the larger public. Overwhelmingly, the sentiment among the older Korean people I talked to was this: The shooting was a shameful act that would bring trouble on the community if publicized and discussed.

Meanwhile, victims, too, are struggling to make sense of their loss, reports the Oakland Tribune.

Almost every night for the last year Wangchen Nyima has been awakened in the middle of the night by a terrible dream.

He sees his dead sister, Sonam Choedon, whom he often helped financially, calling out to him in her native Tibetan. “Cho-cho,” she cries out, using the Tibetan word for older brother, “Cho-cho, can I have some pocket money?”

Nyima is rarely able to go back to sleep after these encounters.

“I keep thinking, ‘Why?’” he said. “I still can’t believe that she’s gone.”

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