Korea (and adoption) in the news

Korean-American Director Rediscovers Roots, The Chosunilbo, December 3, 2011

Tammy Chu was adopted by an American family at the age of nine and raised in rural New York state. She never saw another Korean until she went to college. “I remember what my birth parents looked like, but I forgot how to speak Korean and memories of Korean culture also disappeared from my mind,” she recalls.

Chu became a documentary film director and came back to Korea in 1998 for a project. “When I came to Seoul, it felt strange yet familiar and uncomfortable yet comfortable.”

She now lives in an apartment in Itaewon. She had shuttled back and forth from New York and Seoul for some 10 years and eventually decided to settle down here. Last year Chu, who can now understand a lot of Korean, won the top prize for a documentary at the Busan International Film Festival for her film “Resilience,” which focused on Korean adoptees.

Read the full article here.

South Korea’s Baby Mill, Asia Sentinel, THURSDAY, 01 DECEMBER 2011.

Despite a faltering birth rate, Korea still exports more adoptees than any other country

Despite having one of the world’s lowest birthrates and the 14th-largest economy, South Korea is a major source of infants adopted internationally each year.

As the country has grown richer, its total fertility rate has fallen to the lowest level in the industrialized world, from more than six babies per mother in 1960 to 1.15 today, far below the accepted replacement level of 2.1 per mother, according to figures supplied by the World Bank. Despite that, there seems little impetus to keep its adoptable children at home. Many factors are at work that lead to South Korean babies being adopted, both domestically and abroad.

According to the Korean Ministry of Health, an estimated Korean 220,000 babies have been adopted by parents in 14 receiving countries since the global child diaspora began in 1955 when an American couple, Bertha and Henry Holt, adopted eight at one go.

Read the full article here.

Korea Still Sends Hundreds of Babies Abroad for Adoption, The ChosunIlbo, November 23, 2011

Korea is still sending hundreds of babies for adoption to the U.S., highlighting the need to strengthen child protection in the country. According to the 2011 Annual Adoption Report to Congress released Friday, out of the total of 2,047 foreign-born children adopted by U.S. families from October 2010 to September 2011, 734 or 36 percent were from Korea.

Worldwide, China was the birthplace of most children adopted overseas with 2,589 out of all 9,320 children. Next came Ethiopia with 1,727 and Russia with 970. Korea ranked fourth with 736, followed by 632 from Ukraine, 230 from the Philippines, 228 from India, 207 from Uganda, and 205 from Taiwan.

Read the full article here.

K-pop: Soft Power for the Global Cool, Huffington Post, 11/14/11

From the unapologetic fanaticism that is often connected with hallyu (the recent spread of Korean culture around the globe), it is almost as if the K-pop factor just fell onto the South Korean government’s lap, eagerly waiting to be used as an instrument for expanding soft power and cultural engagement with the world.

For a small country with humble beginnings, South Korea is now under the global spotlight in myriad ways. Just this week Google revealed its latest mission to set up a YouTube channel exclusively for K-pop. Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google, visited Seoul to meet with President Lee Myung-bak as well as a slew of top executives at several major IT organizations in order to gain support for this project.

The K-pop sensation burst onto the already-existing Asian pop music scene years ago, but its carefully organized system of matching good looking young singers (now often bilingual in English, Japanese, or Chinese — and chosen in order to enter those respective markets) with globally-attractive dance beats and ballads has clearly been adopted as the au courant choice of dance/pop style not only within Asian borders but in the Western sphere as well.

Read the full article here.

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