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The adopted Koreans: Diaspora politics and the construction of an ethnic identity
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Oriental Languages, Division of Korean Studies.
2002 (English)In: 1st Conference of the Swedish School of Advanced Asia Pacific Studies, 2002Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Since the end of the Korean war (1950-53) 150,000 Koreans from the R.O.K. have been adopted to a dozen Western countries. Still every year around 2000 children leave the country for overseas adoption. Western military engagement in the war started the history of adoption as the first children who were sent overseas were bi-racial. No other country in the world has sent away so many children for adoption as the R.O.K. From the 1860s when the Choson dynasty crumbled as a result of Western imperialism, and especially during Japanese colonial rule between 1910-45, Koreans emigrated or were forcefully transported abroad in the thousands establishing a tradition of displacement. The emigration continued during the authoritarian regimes between 1948-92, creating a diaspora which today numbers 5 million people. Since the end of the 1980s when adoption became an open issue in after years of shame and secretiveness, adopted Koreans have been treated as a diasporic community of Korean ethnicity. This is truly evident when studying the media and the acts of the government during Kim Dae-jung´s presidency. Even if the existence of the adopted Koreans was hidden for many years, today they are remembered and play a role in the globalization of Korea. The adoption from the R.O.K. is viewed as a result of colonialism and Western hegemony, and the adopted Koreans as one of the most extreme results of modern Korean history. The adopted Koreans are seen as an integrated part of the worldwide Korean community together with the Chosonjok in China, the Chaemi Kyopo in the U.S., the Zainichen or Chosenjin in Japan and the Koryo Saram in Central Asia. The continuing adoption of children from the R.O.K. is a sign of the country´s dependency to the West and a symbol of a postcolonial nation perceived not only as one big family but also as a dispersed family.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
adopted Koreans, diaspora
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-21636OAI: diva2:188163
Available from: 2006-04-09 Created: 2006-04-09Bibliographically approved

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