Meeting Once More
The Korean Side of Transnational Adoption
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book is the happy outcome of twelve years I have spent equally in France, South Korea, and the United States. For that reason, the list of people I should thank is very long, and I can name only a few whose encourage-ment, help, advice, presence, friendship, and love were instrumental in the I thank my French family for being supportive during my studies and ...
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In 1999, I returned to South Korea, my birth country, for the first time since my adoption by a French family at age four. I was then twenty-one and a par-ticipant in the Holt International Summer School, a three-week program for international adoptees held every summer since 1991 by the adoption agency Holt Children’s Services.1 That summer, I discovered a television show called ...
PART I: MEETING THE BIRTH COUNTRY
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1. Shift in South Korean Policies toward Korean Adoptees, 1954–Today
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...roughly dollar.oldstyle15 to dollar.oldstyle20 million a year. They relieve the government of the costs of caring for the children, which could be a drain on the budget. And they help with population control, an obsession of the adults. That is why it is in our interest to ensure the creation of a Today, returning adult adoptees are considered a resource by the South ...
2. Everyday Encounters
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One day of the spring of 2001, I went to a local flower shop to buy a bou-quet for my paternal aunt’s birthday. My poor command of the language drew the attention of the female shopkeeper. The woman frowned, and her face darkened when I disclosed that I was adopted. Even though I told her with pride that the flowers were for my aunt who lived close by, she asked ...
3. Holt International Summer School or Three-Week Re-Koreanization, 1999–2004
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Koreans pretend to organize all this for us [adoptees], but I think Holt Children’s Services officially initiated the Holt International Summer School (HISS) in 1991, but it was launched informally in 1983 by David Kim for the first returnees (2001, 320–321). Today this three-week pro-gram includes different types of activities: a “heritage tour”; classes related ...
4. Stratification and Homogeneity at the Korean Broadcasting System, 2003
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Wednesday, June 4, 2003, 8:30 a.m.: a happy bird’s singing signaled the opening sequence of Ach’im madang on KBS. Shortly after, a trumpet played an optimistic major chord in arpeggios, and an energetic, happy melody began. The thirty-second animated film featured the host and the hostess as main characters: their caricatural big heads wore a frozen smile ...
5. National Reunification and Family Meetings
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In 1999, my paternal grandmother expressed great joy at meeting again with me, the older of her favorite son’s two daughters who had been left by their father at the orphanage Star of the Sea (haesŏng) in Inchon. She cried in silence, compressed my hands for a long time, looked at my palms in the hopes of reading a promising future, asked me for forgiveness, and confided ...
PART II: MEETING THE BIRTH FAMILY
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6. Stories behind History
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...ter will come back one day. It is my only hope in life, and I will daughter as his own....I write letters to the adoptive parents and I tell them they should make her learn Korean, so that when she comes back we can talk together. For me, it is too late to learn Eng-lish....Nowadays, many parents send their children abroad, even ...
7. Meetings’ Aftermaths
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In South Korean director Im’s film Kilsottŭm (1986), two ex-lovers meet ran-domly in the context of the 1983 telethon. After the meeting scene that takes place on the staircase of the Korean Broadcasting System headquarters, a short sequence shows the reaction of each of their respective spouses. Both legitimate families suffer in silence, troubled by these ghosts’ appearance in ...
8. Evolving Relationship with My Birth Family
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You are like my daughter. You see, the word “niece” [chok’a ttal]I am not doing well financially right now....I am sorry we have met only once this past year even though you live in Korea. But, Almost two hours after I departed from Seoul with the fifty-something Korean women who were introduced to me as my mother and paternal aunt, ...
9. Management of Feelings
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A man ran away after his wife’s death, leaving his two daughters alone without resources. They were subsequently sent to an orphanage. To the now fifty-year-old daughter, the hostess says: “Hmm. ...It must have been difficult for your father after your mother’s death.”“Transnational adoptees’ common point is that they don’t know the ...
10. Meeting the Lost and the Dead
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When I returned to South Korea and found my birth relatives in 1999, I learned that my father had passed away in 1996 at the age of forty-five. Weep-ing, my paternal grandmother explained that this premature death of her second-oldest son had been followed shortly by the death of her third son in 1998. After these two deaths, my return was a real consolation; my relatives ...
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Anthropologists of kinship and gender have framed the first half of the trans-national adoption process—first-world, educated parents choosing to adopt a foreign child—within the category of global ideologies of reproduction (Ginsburg and Rapp 1995; Strathern 1992). This book has shed light on the second half of the transnational adoption process that only a few can experi-...
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About the Author
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Elise Prébin was born in South Korea in 1978 and was raised in France. She obtained her PhD at University of Paris Ouest-Nanterre la Défense in social anthropology in 2006, was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Harvard University from 2007 to 2009, and served as an assistant professor at Han-yang University (South Korea) from 2010 to 2011. She is now an independent ...
Page Count: 231
Publication Year: 2013