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 encouragement, help, advice, presence, friendship, and love were instrumental in the...
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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 participant in the Holt International Summer School, a three-week program for international adoptees held every summer since 1991 by the adoption agency...
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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Today, returning adult adoptees are considered a resource by the South Korean government in the context of globalization. Since the 1990s, the positive image of successful adult adoptees’ return to South Korea has tended to supplant the negative image of unfortunate babies being sent abroad for...
2. Everyday Encounters
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One day of the spring of 2001, I went to a local flower shop to buy a bouquet 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...
3. Holt International Summer School or Three-Week Re-Koreanization, 1999–2004
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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 program 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...
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...
PART II: MEETING THE BIRTH FAMILY
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6. Stories behind History
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The meeting program Ach’im madang constitutes rich material for the anthropologist: its content sheds light on the reasons and causes of fifty years of parent-child separations. We saw previously that there were historical causes for family separations and transnational adoption. But, as we will see...
7. Meetings’ Aftermaths
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In South Korean director Im’s film Kilsottŭm (1986), two ex-lovers meet randomly 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...
8. Evolving Relationship with My Birth Family
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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, we arrived in Inchon. We decided that I would first go to my paternal aunt’s house. My mother dropped my maternal aunt and me off in a narrow alley...
9. Management of Feelings
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Created after the 1983 telethon and produced since 1997, Ach’im madang, with its emphasis on meetings between estranged relatives, may in a minority of cases lead to sustained relationships, but only under certain circumstances. The marital and financial situation of birth parents must be taken into account...
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. Weeping, 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...
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Anthropologists of kinship and gender have framed the first half of the transnational 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...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 231
Publication Year: 2013