April 14, 2011, 3:58 PM KST
Korean Adoptee Brings Identity Issues to Stage
By Sung-eun Jang
Courtesy Adam Lofbomm Amy Ginther in “Between.”
One of the most sensitive topics in South Korean society is
international adoption, a topic that is bound up in conflicting ideals
of nationalism, development and what constitutes a “normal family.”
The matter is sensitive for Korean adoptees on a different level. Many
wind up in North American and European countries where, while usually
raised in loving families, they must cope with issues of race and
tolerance they wouldn’t have encountered in the same way had they
grown up in Korea.
This week, a young Korean-American adoptee, Amy Ginther, has been
performing a play in Seoul that deals with the identity issues she
Called “Between: Growing Up (Adopted),” the play is about what happens
during an adoptee’s trip to find her birth family back in South Korea.
It’s based on Ms. Ginther’s real life.
“I play about six, seven different characters, ranging from a young
8-year-old adoptee girl to an unwed Korean mother, and a few other
characters,” Ms. Ginther said in an interview. “It’s both funny and
sad. It’s meant to encapsulate different aspects of Korean-American
adoption and to illustrate its complexities.”
The play opens with a portrayal of a letter Ms. Ginther wrote to her
birth mother, who she met seven years ago with help from a Korean
“I cannot imagine the difficulty of giving up a child because of
circumstances you cannot control. What you did made it possible for me
to have a wonderful life in America. Even though you could not raise
me, you still continue to be a part of my life,” she wrote in the
Ms. Ginther said she invited her birth mother to attend the show this weekend.
“I don’t know what her response will be. But I am sure it will be
emotional for her and I’m really looking forward to sharing the
stories with her,” she said.
Ms. Ginther will donate all the proceeds of the play to KUMFA, Korean
Unwed Mothers & Families Association.
“I believe most unwed mothers want to keep their children, but Korean
society has not given them the support they need to do so. The unwed
moms live difficult lives in Korea in order to keep and raise their
children,” Ms. Ginther said.
The show runs through this weekend at Club After Mainstage in Seoul.