I Thought Seppuku Was Japanese
Former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, a suspect in a corruption scandal that implicated his wife and family, apparently committed suicide Saturday by leaping from a mountain cliff near his rural home.
Roh, 62, died of head injuries while hiking in the early morning with a bodyguard. "He appears to have jumped from a mountain rock," said Moon Jae-in, a lawyer who was Roh's presidential chief of staff.
"The suffering caused by me is too great to too many people," Roh wrote in a suicide note found soon after his death. "The suffering in store for the future is too much to bear. The remainder of my life will only be a burden to others."
The joke headline aside, I don't think it's stereotyping to say that certain Asian cultures do place a higher importance on shame than we do in the West. Sure, we've seen public figures in America kill themselves during investigations into their dealings (see Budd Dwyer), but my sense is that this idea of dishonoring oneself and one's family is more developed in a country like Japan or Korea. Not enough to keep one from the dishonor of corruption in the first place, however.