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Book details
  • SubGenre:Asian
  • Language:English
  • Series title:Journal of Korean Adoption Studies
  • Series Number:1
  • Pages:198
  • eBook ISBN:9772092612003

Journal of Korean Adoption Studies

Volume 1, Number 1, Summer 2009

by Global Overseas Adoptees' Link

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Journal of Korean Adoption Studies is dedicated to all aspects of international adoption from Korea. The peer-reviewed journal welcomes academic essays, testimonies of adoption, art, illustrations, and reviews of new publications and releases related to Korean adoption studies.
Editor's note by Kim Su Rasmussen There is an urgent need to uncover, to collect, and to document the complete history of international adoption from Korea. The history of international adoption has so far been addressed in a fragmented or an inappropriate manner. Many individual stories have been left untold. Many important decisions have been shrouded in darkness. Many vital documents have been forged or altered. One of the purposes of Journal of Korean Adoption Studies is to contribute to the writing of the still unwritten history of international adoption from Korea. International adoption is an integral, yet mostly forgotten part of modern Korean history. Furthermore, international adoption is literally an embodiment of global capitalism and its deterritorialization. But, first and foremost, the unwritten history of international adoption belongs to the adoptees: the larger context in which the adoptees might understand their individual trajectory. In order to fully experience and understand an event, as Walter Benjamin once wrote, one needs to integrate an individual perspective with a collective history. Without a collective history, however, it is difficult if not impossible for the adoptees to fully understand their individual fate. It is unfortunate that many of the debates surrounding Korean adoption are locked in the static for or against international adoption. The controversy, essentially moral in character, hinders a nuanced investigation of the past and divides the community of adopted Koreans. Perhaps, instead of debating the moral value of international adoption in general, it might be wiser to describe international adoption as a morally gray zone in which intentions and effects are often contradictory. One of the aims of Journal of Korean Adoption Studies is to move beyond for or against. The first issue of Journal of Korean Adoption Studies is loosely focused on testimony as a particular form of expression that has been prevalent in many of the books, films, and artworks produced by Korean adoptees. Furthermore, much of the positivist research in the social sciences relies on various forms of testimony–for instance responses to questionnaires or longer interviews–as sources of information. Testimonies, however, are far from self-evident revelations of truth. They are both informative and performative, as Geoffrey Hartmann has noted, and in both respects they demand interpretation. Despite the widespread reliance on testimony as source of information, the notion itself and its epistemological status remain under-theorized in the field of Korean adoption studies. The growing prominence of adoptee testimonies might lead us to distinguish between history and memory: in addition to the history of adoption, we find a history of the memory of adoption. Adoptee testimonies are indications of a past that is still active in the present: the remnants of adoption, the traces of an event that is never completely over, the forgetting or repression of past events and their haunting return, the unfinished business of laying the past to rest. In this sense, as a parallel to Henry Rousso's classic description of The Vichy Syndrome in France, we might interpret the plethora of adoptee testimonies as indications of a collective adoption syndrome in Korea. Journal of Korean Adoption Studies is dedicated to all aspects of international adoption from Korea. The aim of the journal is to stimulate historical documentation, critical analysis, and interdisciplinary discussion of the entire range of phenomena associated with international adoption from Korea.
About the author
Since the 1950's upwards of 200,000 Korean children have been out of Korea for adoption. Since the 1980's, many adult adoptees have returned to Korea to search for their birth families, to seek connection to Korean culture, language and identity, to work and to live. While many adoptees make this journey successfully, the majority of adoptees have and continue to encounter significant barriers in navigating their way through Korean society. To counteract this lack of resources, G.O.A.'L was established in Seoul, Korea in March 1998 as an independent organization to assist returning adoptees. G.O.A.'L unites Korean adoptees from around the world with over 100 native Korean volunteers. These native Korean members help by providing knowledge about Korean culture, insight about native Korean behavior, and by increasing awareness of adoption issues amongst the general public. In short, G.O.A.'L was developed to help adoptees adjust to living and working in Korea, to find a job and a place to live, to locate their birth families and also to make sure that birth families and adoptees can communicate even after a successful reunion. More importantly, G.O.A.'L's presence in Korea fosters awareness about adoption in the Korean government, adoption agencies, and Korean society. We feel it is important that adoptees have a home base and voice within their birth country. The primary focus of G.O.A.'L is to inform the Korean society and government about the existence of Overseas Adopted Koreans (OAKs) and what it means to be adopted. Secondly, G.O.A.'L fosters positive links between adoptees and Korean society, and increases international awareness regarding issues of Korean adoption. Thirdly, G.O.A.'L provides support for adoptees that wish to learn about Korean life firsthand, and also assists those endeavoring to find their birth families. Finally, G.O.A.'L works by slowly breaking down the walls of prejudice, misunderstanding, shame, and pity that separate Koreans from adoptees and adoptees from each other. For those adoptees returning to Korea to visit or stay, G.O.A.'L has compiled a list of resources such as translators, guides, birth search departments, language tutors, and other volunteer support networks available specifically for Korean adoptees. In the past, many teenage and adult adoptees were discouraged from coming to Korea because they didn't know anyone in Korea or where they would stay if they did come. It is our hope that G.O.A' L's message will reach those adoptees that feel this way and give them the courage to visit Korea without the fear of feeling isolated. We believe that there are sufficient resources for Korean adoptees to live in Korea for a short or long term period. More OAKs' voices need to be heard in the Korean community. G.O.A.'L is one way to voice your feelings and opinions. If you stay in Korea for a longer period it would also be a great opportunity to volunteer for G.O.A.'L. G.O.A.'L also maintains a contact list for Korean adoptees who currently live in Korea. The purpose of this list is to keep our small Korean adoptee community here in Korea together. Every month G.O.A.'L organizes events, workshops and seminars, and often informal groups for fun and to share experiences. In these ways Korean adoptees are able to exchange information and other important messages with each other.
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