A Glimpse Inside the World of Adoptee Activism in Korea

The following is reprinted on this blog with permission by AsiaTrend Magazine. It originally appeared in AsiaTrend Magazine’s September 2015 issue which can now be accessed online by following this link.

The first 13 Korean adoptees receiving dual citizenship in Korea pose for a photo at a special ceremony held for them in April 2011. Dual citizenship in Korea for adoptees was made possible through lobbying efforts led by adoptee activists. (Photo courtesy of G.O.A.’L.)
The first 13 Korean adoptees receiving dual citizenship in Korea pose for a photo at a special ceremony held for them in April 2011. Dual citizenship in Korea for adoptees was made possible through lobbying efforts led by adoptee activists. (Photo courtesy of G.O.A.’L.)

One day while browsing through the English language section of a bookstore in Seoul, a young Korean woman randomly engaged me in casual conversation. Seconds into our discussion, it became clear to me that she had been raised overseas. When I asked her what brought her to Korea, she told me she had returned to search for her birth family. She had been adopted at a young age by a Dutch family and as an adult, decided to come back to her birth country in search of her roots.

The search, however, was going horribly. She had tried everything she could to find her birth mother, including going on national television with the few facts she knew about her origins in the hope that someone would step forward and claim her as a biological family member. What she didn’t know prior to beginning her search was just how difficult the current laws were in Korea in terms of helping returned adoptees like herself search for blood family relatives.

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