Last updated 12-31-08 at 12:24 p.m.
In Soo Chun’s apparent suicide
To the Editor:
In Soo Chun, 61, took his own life on the Red Square
on of the University of Washington campus on Oct. 30, 2008. He doused
himself with gasoline and set himself on fire, in full view of the
UW administration building.
Those who witnessed the event saw something terrifying
that they will never forget. Others may have heard
about it on television or read about it in the
newspaper and thought, ‘That’s terrible,’ as
they continued to surf channels or flipped the
pages of a newspaper without another thought.
The UW officials claimed he committed suicide.
However, what he did falls more in line with sacrificing his life for
a cause or protesting something. Two months have passed since his death,
but that does not diminish what Mr. Chun did.
During the Vietnam War, I clearly remember Buddhist
Monks dousing themselves with gasoline and setting themselves on fire
in downtown Saigon. That was their way of protesting and drawing attention
to the fact that the South Vietnamese government was corrupt. True,
it was suicide, but their purpose was not only to take their own lives;
it was to publicly draw attention to a cause greater than themselves.
I call it the ultimate sacrifice for a cause.
If Chun would have wanted to just commit suicide,
he could have done so in the privacy of his own home and it would have
probably gone unnoticed except to the few that knew him. On the other
hand, if Chun was protesting, then his death needs to be examined more
closely; otherwise his sacrifice was in vain.
He was a schoolteacher in Korea. Chun emigrated from Korea to the
United States in 1977 where he earned his bachelors in political science
in Portland and a master’s in political science at the UW. Then
he became a U.S. citizen.
He was a custodian at the UW for three years before
being dismissed from his job in August 2008. He was a member of Union
Chun was not what is considered a normal custodian. He was highly
educated, probably more so than most up his chain
Chun obviously gave his apparent sacrifice much
thought. What could Mr. Chun have been protesting, if he was in
What happened to Mr. Chun that could have driven
him to such a protest? Could it have possibly been
something he witnessed on the university campus?
Was Chun’s sacrifice
related to the way he was dismissed from his job?
Did Chun commit suicide or sacrifice himself so
that others might benefit? Did he give his life
on behalf of others? If he did sacrifice himself
on behalf of others, then aren’t we
obligated to find out why?
—Charles Peters, Seattle
Filipino fighters do us proud
To the Editor:
Being of half-Filipino decent, I take pride in Filipino
fighters. Watching Manny Pacquiao fights has had
bigger turn outs at Filipino households than a
New Year’s party.
You published a good article about the Filipino Wrecking Machine
Mark Munoz (written by Jason Cruz in issue 52).
I hope many Filipinos understand that mixed martial
arts (MMA) is different than boxing, and the greatest
in the world are never undefeated. Holding on to the belt for
more than a year is very unlikely in MMA.
On the reality show “Ultimate Fighter,” finalist Phillipe
Nover made me even more of a fan of MMA when he made
the other fighters in the house try a balut egg,
opening MMA fans to the Filipino culture and its cuisine. Nover was
not afraid to show the world our culture and who we are as human
These fighters will inspire other Filipino fighters
to fight in MMA. The Ultimate Fighting Championship
should be thankful for their Filipino fighters and
understand that the fighters will bring more money
to the business.
— George O’Neil, Providence, R.I.