[Embracing Diversity] ‘The country has had to shift from its existing social paradigm of racial homogeneity, to allow for cultural diversity.’ - Han Geon-su
January 04, 2010
“Koreans have long believed themselves to be of “pure blood… But there is no doubt that Koreans’ attachment to bloodlines is no longer in sync with the present.
Ministry of Public Administration and Security, one out of every 10 marriages in Korea was an international marriage in 2008. The figure in rural areas, however, was four out of every 10 marriages. So it comes as no surprise that these so-called “multicultural” families - Korean nationals (generally male), their foreign spouses and their children - make up 1.7 percent of all Korean households today.
“The change has come about as Korea’s status in the world has changed. Korea was once a country that exported labor, but since the 1980s, it’s become a country that imports labor,” says Han Geon-su, a cultural anthropology professor at Kangwon National University. “This has forced the country to shift away from its existing social paradigm, which is based on racial, national and cultural homogeneity, to allow for cultural diversity.”
The KWB points out another ‘multiethnic family’ article that show how the country is changing, whether it likes it or not. Certainly though, it will be a slow process. If you, reading this humble blog, are a Korean Adoptee, Domestic or Overseas/ICA/InterNational or whatever; You need to know what was happening during the time in Korean society, when YOU were born.
Some have disparaged the fact that by being adopted OUT of Korea that “adoption” itself is an EVIL in of its self. Cries of ‘kidnapped for child-laundering’ some claim, as though every child sent overseas for adoption were ‘robbed of their culture and sold to White Parents’. Oh, my!! They were forced to live in communities where they ‘stood out as the only Asian’. Each adoptee had to 'sort out' their own Self-identity, hopefully with supporting Adoptive Parents and family. It seems that those who were the only adoptee in a family, and those who lived in EU countries faired worse than others in multiple adoptees in a blended family. The acceptance of the society one wind up in greatly effected their development of Identity, self-esteem, the question of "Who AM I?"
While recent studies Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and Tobias Hubinette's study on Sweden, certainly show that in fact Korean Adoptees DO face prejudice, school room teasing, identity crisis and confusion, curiosity, endless questions about "what are you"...WELL, we must go back to the beginning.
What reasons were children and babies given up? This is the crucial question that has changed over the years as Korea went from Post-War economy to become one of the 'Tigers of Asia'. Some use the argument, "Korea is a Developing nation and SHOULD take care of its children". This implies that Korean people, because they are now doing so well economically, can/should/must/really ought to/etc. stop 'exporting their children to the world'.
This is a MOOT argument, the KWB portends for discussion and to be analyzed from the ROOT of the Problems. Children are NOT being sent away for economic reasons. PERIOD, that is not the cause, so don't even bring it up...do you think you will shame people into letting their daughters keep illegitimate babies? What IS working is that more and more social standards are changing and women ARE increasingly KEEPING their babies, DESPITE family, society, and lack of support. Over 31.7% of Unwed mothers are keeping their children, according to reports from Korean Women's Development Institute (KWDI). See the recent post KUMSN
Were there cases of abuse, yes, we know of a number of cases. One famous KAD was ‘sold’ by her relative without her birth parents knowledge. Cases of wrong birthdates or two dates can happen because if one was “Abandoned” then they had to estimate your age. Some cases parents tried to get children back but they had been sent overseas. The KWB would love to have some figures of the estimate of these cases. TRACK has documented six cases and there are perhaps many more. (If you have accurate numbers please contact the KWB.)
Evan B. Donaldson’s Adoption Institute’s recent survey here certainly shows that many adoptees struggled with their ‘Non White
identity’ as young children, wishing they were White like their peers. But as they enter teenage then university, most adoptees begin to experience more understanding of their Asianness. It takes effort to ‘Beyond Culture Camp’ but not all Adoptees feel the need.
Some may not want to search for birth parents, fearing alienation or hurt to their Adoptive Family. Some ARE satisfied with Culture Camp, eating Korean food, learning the language, studying history, visiting Korea once or more, working as a English teacher, etc. The more one learns the more one “feels” their Ethnic Identity. Or so one hope and thinks.
Many ‘Real Korean people’ have an embarrassed or ashamed feeling towards us, some just wish we would not be coming back. Yes, SOME mothers are wanting to have reunion with the child they relinquished/gave up for adoption. Who has not heard of the programs on television and films plots of returning famous Adoptees and those 75,000 Adoptees who have made at least one trip back.
Yet there will always be limitation, as the KWB post shadesOfKoreanness points out. Our level of being a “Real Korean” is dependant on many factors. As Korea evolves and faces the realities of “NO LONGER BEING HOMOGENOUS”, then the people of our motherland perhaps ONE DAY, Koreans can accept Overseas Adoptees as “Real Koreans” as well. It will probably not happen in the Korean War Baby’s time (he IS and Old Guy)…but those in their thirties and forties may help bring it about.