Editor's Note on Cho's Surname

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Washington Post today begins referring to the gunman who killed 32 people Monday at Virginia Tech as Seung Hui Cho, with his surname Cho at the end, after the family said it preferred to give the name in that order.

In earlier articles this week, The Post gave the name as Cho Seung Hui on first reference and as Cho thereafter.

Cho was an immigrant from South Korea, where family surnames are written first, followed by two-syllable given names. The given names are sometimes hyphenated. Many East Asian immigrants shift the order of the names as part of their adaptation to life in the United States.

The Post's policy is to defer, when possible, to the individual's or the family's preference on whether the surname is written first or last. In this instance, Cho himself appears to have written his name both ways, and the family had not stated a preference. The Post therefore had followed the practice of Virginia Tech and Virginia State Police, which have consistently put the family name first in references to Cho.

Yesterday, however, the Associated Press reported that the Cho family, which issued a statement regarding the tragedy, said its preference was to give the name as Seung Hui Cho. The Post thus will now place the surname at the end. The Post's style is not to hyphenate the given names.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company