Tag Archives: Adoptees


Homeland Tour for Biracial Adoptees

Hapa Mosaic Tour participants, including Katherine Kim (in hat), at Haemil School.

photographs by DENIS JEONG

International adoption began in South Korea in 1953, as thousands of Korean children were left parentless and/or homeless by the Korean War, while many others were born to Korean women and fathered by American GIs or soldiers from one of 16 UN countries stationed in the country. Late last year, the Me & Korea Foundation and MBC Nanum hosted the first-ever homeland tour of Korea tailored for mixed-race adoptees. The co-authors were two of the 25 participants on the 10-day-long tour, which was funded by Korean Adoption Services, the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Jesus Love Presbyterian Church in Seoul. The following is a personal reflection of the authors’ experience returning to their birth country. 

As half-Korean, half-white adoptees who came to the U.S. as toddlers more than 50 years ago, we were raised in white communities by white parents having little to no understanding of our Korean roots. A Korea homeland tour tailored to mixed-race adoptees, we believed, was a start to understanding this painful chapter in our personal histories.

For adoptees as a whole, a visit to Korea is more than about just travel and tourism. It can trigger profound feelings of loss and rejection. For mixed-race adoptees born during the post-Korean War era, those feelings are further complicated by the fact that we look neither fully Korean nor fully Western, and are a minority among more than 200,000 Korean adoptees worldwide.

While Korean War orphans were cast as “nobodies,” having lost their family lineage, mixed-race children fathered by American GIs or other UN soldiers during the war were thought of as even more inferior—we were known as tuigi, slang for “devil’s child.” We were labeled the “dust of the streets,” the lowest of the low. Within that bottom hierarchy even, Korean whites were treated better than Korean blacks.

Regardless of the nationality of our fathers, most mixed-race adoptees were born stateless, as our Korean mothers, often abandoned by these servicemen, could not confer citizenship onto us.

We were, and still are, the in-betweens.

* * *

Pot-Comment-FM15-groupFrom L-R: Stefanie Blandon, Insooni, Katherine Kim and filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem. Their shirts reflect their birth year (1957) and ages (57).

The participants’ ages on the Mosaic Hapa Tour, which took place between Oct. 30 and Nov. 8 last year, ranged from 32 to the early 60s, with most of us in our 40s and 50s. Two live in the Netherlands, while the rest were from the U.S. In total, we were nine Korean blacks and 16 Korean whites, 21 females and four males. For more than half the group, the trip marked the first visit to Korea since leaving as adoptees.

Activities on our tour included learning about traditional Korean tea, visiting Naejangsan to take in the fall foliage, taking a river cruise on the Han River, eating dishes such as bulgogi and bibimbap, and visiting such orphanages as Ewha Orphanage in Naju and the Choonghyun Orphanage Museum in Gwangju.

A highlight of our tour, however, was visiting the Haemil School, a boarding school that sits on a small campus in Gangwon Province in the city of Hongcheon. There, we met and spent time with Insooni, the acclaimed R&B singer who, like us, is a mixedrace Korean.

Insooni founded Haemil in 2013 for mixed-race children and other local students. Presently it houses about 21 students between the ages of 12 and 15. Haemil, which means “clear sky after the rain,” exists so that mixed-race kids in Korea don’t have to weather the same hardships that Insooni did, growing up mixed race in post-war Korea.

Pot-Comment-FM15-stageTour participants sing and dance along with Insooni on a stage at the Haemil School

On the day our tour group visited the school, it was a cloudy Saturday afternoon, the day of the school fair. We stepped off the bus at the school’s entrance, where Insooni was waiting to greet us. She was pixie cute, looked far younger than her 57 years, and exuded a warmth and radiance that was palpable to all. She hugged each of us as though we were long-lost friends. Although many in our group had never heard of Insooni, it didn’t take long for everyone to warm to her.

The school fair featured a variety of activities. There were craft events such as weaving egg baskets from straw and creating handkerchiefs by hammering fall leaves onto fabric, plus outdoor games like badminton. The school served snacks like hotteok, the sweet Korean pancake, and lunch items such as ddeokbokgi, rice cakes smothered in spicy chili sauce. For entertainment, the Haemil students performed energetic dance and traditional Korean drum routines on an outdoor stage. Insooni also performed and sang for us. Abuji (“Father”), a song about separation and heartache, brought us to tears while other numbers had us joining her on stage to dance and sing along.

* * *

Pot-Comment-FM15-AutographJamey Rawls Mickelbury receives an autograph from Insooni.

Between 1953 and 1965, more than 4,000 mixed-race children in South Korea were put up for international adoption, mainly to the U.S. Many mixed-race adoptees from this era were relinquished by single mothers who were ostracized by their kin and communities for birthing us or unable to raise a child due to financial hardship.

In the early years of international adoption, more mixed-race children were sent away for adoption than full-Korean orphans, a practice that was fully embraced by the Korean government. Missionaries such as Robert Pierce, founder of international charity organization World Vision, and Harry Holt, who established Holt International Children’s Services, drew the world’s attention to the orphan plight in Korea, particularly that of mixed-race children.

As most members of our tour group were born between 1951 and 1967, and were sent away as infants or younger children for international adoption, we have no memories of our birth mothers and know almost nothing about our birth fathers.

A few participants were raised in Korea until they were teens and experienced extreme bullying and abuse. One tour member recalled getting beaten up  by other kids on a daily basis. She was called degrading names, was spat on, kicked and stoned, and even had her natural reddish-brown hair set on fire by an old [Korean] man, “simply because [it] was not black,” she recalled.

For those of us who left Korea in the 1950s and 1960s, the concept of transracial adoption was still so new, there were no best practices in place. Adoptive parents were told to love and raise us as their own without regard for the loss and trauma that accompanies any adoption. Overlooked was the fact that many of us looked nothing like our adoptive families or the communities in which we lived.

Thankfully, much has changed in the last 62 years in the area of transnational adoption, and there are far more resources now to help Korean adoptees with questions of cultural identity.

* * *

Pot-Comment-FM15-talkingTour participants listen to Insooni recount memories of growing up in Korea.

One of the most memorable moments of our group visit to Haemil School was listening to Insooni speak about growing up in Korea. We sat in a circle on the floor inside a classroom, introducing ourselves using our Korean names. Insooni spoke in Korean, her words translated into English by an interpreter from Me & Korea.

Born in 1957, like a few of us on the tour, Insooni, we learned, was raised by a Korean mother and fathered by a black American GI whom she never met. Once, when she was a young girl riding on the bus, two boys behind her kicked her seat. Taunting her, they asked where she was “made”: “Are you Camp Itaewon, Camp Paju, Camp Songtan?” they said. Things got so difficult, Insooni even went to Holt Services and asked to be sent away for adoption. Recounting the memory, she said she was told she was too old to go through the adoption process.

Yet, Insooni also talked about the hardships her mother faced and of her courage in raising a mixed-race child when she was marginalized by her own culture. No matter how bad the bullying became, Insooni persevered, following her dreams of becoming a singer. Today, the Korean public has come to embrace her as a beloved performing artist.

To our tour group, Insooni spoke about the choices our mothers and fathers faced when they were so young, living during such an impoverished chapter of Korea’s history. She asked us to forgive the men who left their children behind in a country that treated our mothers and us like dirt, in a country whose only social solution to our births was encouraging our adoption. A country where, had we remained, we would have lived under a cloud of racism and discrimination.

Insooni told us about a concert she performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall in February 2010 for the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, an event attended by many U.S. veterans. The singer told the veterans that, if any of them felt guilt over possibly leaving a child behind in Korea, they should shed their burden and forgive themselves. Many of the men who had served in Korea, including her own biological father, were really just children themselves, Insooni said.

As we sat listening to her, we realized there is a lightness of being to this person, a lightness from having forgiven both her father and her mother. To hear Insooni speak of forgiveness was a powerful message, for we knew she shared a similar background to ours, and her words offered for some a comforting message.

“Although my [biological] father was not young and was married already, and I have plenty to fault him for, he and my mother both gave me life, and for that I have to forgive,” Cynthia Gordon-Burns, 50, one of our group members, reflected afterwards. “Their choices were impossible, and I cannot say what I would do if given the same discouraging options.”

As we left Haemil School grateful for the generosity of time and spirit shown to us by Insooni, we realized that a homeland tour for adoptees isn’t really about coming home—home, we know, is where our loved ones are. Rather, a homeland tour is an opportunity to uncover parts of our past, to visit old wounds and to try to make peace with them.

As a fellow tour member said to us later, “When we forgive, we free ourselves from all the anger and the hatred. Life is too short … [and we] must travel light.”


Katherine Kim lives in Boston and is the mother of two teens, one of whom is adopted. She is active in hapa adoptee issues, including bringing awareness to the planned construction of a memorial park in Paju City close to the Demilitarized Zone, to honor those who were part of the military camp culture during the Korean War.

Dawn Tomlinson is a hapa adoptee who lives in Minnesota with her four children. She has returned to Korea five times, hoping to find her birth family; her search continues. She serves as president of AdopSource, an organization that hosts the annual Minnesota Transracial Film Festival in Minneapolis.

This article was published in the February/March 2015 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the February/March issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days)

This article was published in the February/March 2015 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the February/March issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).



SNL Korea Issues Apology for Offensive Adoptee Sketch

SNL Korea, which came under scrutiny recently for poking fun at Korean American adoptees in a recent sketch, issued a formal apology for its insensitive and tasteless content that understandably drew angry responses from the international adoptee community.

The program, produced by cable network TvN, aired a skit, titled “Meeting You Now,” which depicted a Korean American man at an airport in Korea meeting his birth mother for the first time. Fictitiously named Jason Dooyoung Anderson, the man speaks to his mother with a broken Korean accent, saying, “Why did you abandon me, mom? Were you ass broke?”


Following a barrage of angry responses from the adoptee community, SNL Korea released a formal apology Tuesday.

“We bow our heads and apologize to all international adoptees and their families for hurting them with our recent skit,” the statement read. “We apologize for our lack of sensitivity in dealing with a sensitive issue, and will therefore cancel the rerun of the skit and delete the replay video posted on the Internet. We will do everything possible to prevent similar cases from reoccurring in the future.”

Shortly after SNL Korea’s apology, Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link, an adoptee organization in South Korea, published an open letter to the producers and the writers of the comedy show.

“It was uncomfortable because a reunion between an adoptee and his or her birth parents is for many adoptees, a very, very long awaited moment in their lives,” Nikolaj Leschly, secretary general of G.O.A.’L, said in the letter. “When the purpose of the parody, to bring awareness about a dark part of Korea’s past as claimed by SNL Korea, does so at the expense of those who you are purportedly trying to raise awareness about, it doesn’t sound sincere or truthful.”

“If SNL Korea would really like to raise awareness about the struggles of adoptees, or birth mothers or single unwed mothers, I respectfully ask that you get to know us better before you try to make a parody of our lives.”


Friday's Link Attack: Anthony Kim, Dr. Sammy Lee

American Kim leads by a hair in S. Korea
AP via Google News

Anthony Kim may soon require a trip to the hairdresser after he battled his way to a six-under-par 66 on Friday to propel him into a three-shot halfway lead at the inaugural CJ Invitational.

The 26-year-old American, a three-time winner in the United States, did not even produce his best golf at the Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club but ground out seven birdies in the $750,000 event in South Korea hosted by K.J. Choi.

Choi endured an error-strewn 70 for tied second place with fellow South Koreans Lee Ki-Sang and David Oh, who shot 67 and 69 respectively for a 137 total in the co-sanctioned Asian Tour and Korean Golf Tour showpiece.

Oral history? Telling it like it was
Orange County Register

Dr. Sammy Lee has a tale to tell.

Born in California in 1920, he was inspired by the 1932 LA Olympics to become a two-time Olympic gold diving champion. A respected doctor and veteran, he traveled the world and was family friends with Syngman Rhee, the first president of South Korea.

The son of immigrants, he encountered discrimination that sounds horse and buggy today – outmoded from a different time.

Lee could not practice diving at private clubs because these pools were closed to Asians. During World War II, he once wore a badge: “I am Korean, not a Jap.” He won the 1953 Sullivan Award from the Amateur Athletic Union, but was turned down twice in 1954 trying to buy a house in all-white Garden Grove — until the media got involved.

Those are the facts, an outline for a story only Lee can tell. It’s the kind of the story the Center for Oral and Public History at Cal State Fullerton wants to capture.

Palisades Park woman admits role in ID-theft and bank-fraud ring
Bergen County Record (N.J.)

A Palisades Park woman who was one of 53 suspects arrested in a massive identity-theft and bank-fraud ring last year pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to produce phony identification documents, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

Sung-Sil Joh, 47, also pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting financial institutions, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, authorities said.

Joh was arrested in September 2010 when authorities broke up an identity-theft and bank-fraud ring allegedly run by Sang-Hyun “Jimmy” Park, 44, of Palisades Park.

The ring allegedly obtained Social Security cards beginning with “586.” Cards with that prefix were issued legitimately in the 1990s to Chinese citizens who came to work in American territories such as American Samoa, Guam and Saipan.


US citizen killed in Medan
Jakarta Post (Indonesia)

US citizen Samuel Hyein, 28, died after he was stabbed by two unidentified men riding on a motorcycle.

The Korean-American was taking a pedicab headed to his hotel from Polonia International Airport, according to North Sumatra Police chief Sr. Comr. Heru Prakoso.

“The victim had just arrived at 10:30 p.m. local time from Malaysia on an AirAsia flight,” Heru said on Thursday.

Hyein bled to death from a wound to his leg while being treated at Elisabeth Hospital in Medan.

“We are still trying to identify the perpetrators. Their features were obscured since they wore helmets,” Heru said.

Detectives were still searching for a motive, Heru said. All of Hyein’s property was accounted for, mooting assumptions that the killing was a botched robbery.

From Korean orphan to Richmond local hero
Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia)

Margaret Lerke Woody, whose abandonment as a Korean infant severed her ancestral bloodlines, has become a vital Richmond community lifeline as a volunteer, caregiver and champion of inclusion.

For her efforts, Woody was honored as a “local hero” during Thursday night’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Awards at the Virginia Historical Society. With her recognition comes a $5,000 gift from Bank of America to ART 180, an organization that seeks to transform local youth and communities through art.

Marina woman says she was imprisoned in chicken coop
Monterey County-Herald (Calif.)

A Korean woman in California locked up her Japanese mother-in-law in a chicken coop.

A 92-year-old woman reported to the Marina Police Department she was battered and locked in a chicken coop Wednesday by her daughter-in-law.

The alleged victim said Myuong Sakasegawa, 64, took her purse, battered her, and locked her in the chicken coop. She said she was released from the coop by her son about an hour later.

(HT Marmot’s Hole)

Manoa school featured in George Clooney movie
KHON2.com (Honolulu, HI)

The upcoming film “The Descendants,” starring George Clooney and directed by Alexander Payne was shot entirely in Hawaii and hundreds of local students auditioned for small parts in the movie. One of them was high school student Esther Kang, who had a scene with the Academy Award-winning actor.

“He was like making jokes, he was a super cool guy, like, I had a conversation with him. It was sweet just to meet him,” said Esther Kang. “When I found out [I was cast] I was so happy it was like the best day of my life.”

Adoption satire mostly hits mark
Minneapolis Star Tribune

In “Four Destinies,” Korean-American playwright Katie Hae Leo’s smart, cutting social satire now up in a premiere in Minneapolis, a meddlesome character named Katie Leo (played by Katie Bradley) declares that she wants to speak for all adoptees. And she does, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Beckman’s Kim runs over Northwood for five TDs

It turns out last week was just a warmup for Jeff Kim.

After rushing for 191 yards and two touchdowns last week against Woodbridge, Kim ran for 253 yards and five touchdowns Thursday in visiting Beckman’s 52-31 victory over Northwood in a Pacific Coast League game at Irvine High.

Kim, who was not allowed to play in three games because of undisclosed reasons and returned to action for the Woodbridge game, had 218 yards in the first half and scored four touchdowns in the second quarter.

For the season, Kim, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior, has rushed for 621 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Organizers Accused of Sexually Harassing Beauty Queens
Chosun Ilbo

Contestants of an international beauty pageant hosted by Korea were sexually harassed and offered places in the competition in exchange for sex, contestants claim.

Amy Willerton (19), who competed in the 2011 Miss Asia Pacific World in Korea from Oct. 1 to 15, was quoted by the Sun on Wednesday as saying, “I had two of the organisers sexually assault me — one tried to pull my top down.”

“Girls were pulled aside and told they knew what they had to do if they wanted to win — we all knew they meant sex,” Willerton said.

About 50 contestants participated in the pageant, the first of its kind, in Seoul, Daegu and Busan between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15. The top prize was US$20,000.

Contestants were put in a hotel without enough beds and fed just one meal per day, Willerton said. An optional “talent round” was won by Miss Venezuela, who had not even entered that section of the competition.

Latest hot Korean medical tour: Voice feminization surgery

A little over a decade ago, Dr. Kim Hyung-tae, 48, was your standard otolaryngologist, or a doctor specializing in ear, nose and throat.

Now he is being touted as the best in a highly specialized area — voice feminization surgery, which he developed while treating anemic patients at Catholic University Hospital in Seoul.

Initially devised as a way to combat the voice-deepening side effects of treating anemic female patients, voice feminization surgery is becoming increasingly sought after by transsexuals from overseas who fly in to specifically to receive this treatment, reported Joongang Ilbo today.


Name released of victim in fatal Wednesday crash near Drummond
KBZK.com (Bozeman, Mont.)

Powell County authorities released the name of a man killed in a Wednesday morning crash on I-90 near Deer Lodge as Yun Seok Kang, 41, of Denver, Colorado.

A passenger car with two people hit an elk while traveling westbound in Powell County at around 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to Montana Highway patrol Trooper Tom Gill. Gill said after hitting the elk, the driver lost control of the vehicle, which then crossed the median into the eastbound lanes and hit a semi truck head-on.

Kang was a passenger in the car. The driver, a female, was taken to Deer Lodge by ambulance and then airlifted to a Great Falls hospital.

Student group raises awareness about North Korea
The Pitt News (Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Pitt’s chapter of Liberties in North Korea is a nonprofit student organization designed to break down those walls of silence.

“We raise awareness about not only the human-rights atrocities going on in North Korea, but also the refugee situation in China,” T.J. Collanto, president of Pitt’s Liberty in North Korea chapter, said.

Last year, former Pitt seniors Laura Lee and Jimmy Eppley launched the organization on campus. They devised a way to involve Pitt in the national organization after watching a documentary screening of the crisis in North Korea. Eppley is now a fifth-year senior and Lee has graduated, but the club’s message resonated with the people who joined.

October Issue: Korean Adoptee Explores Roots In One-Woman Show

In Between

Amy Mihyang explores the diversity and complexity of Korean adoptee experiences in her one-woman show, between: growing up (adopted), which opened in Seoul this past spring.

by tammy ko Robinson

A growing number of adult adoptees have been returning to Korea to learn about their cultural and biological roots. And many are not just going for summer motherland tours and birth family searches, but are relocating there to live and work.

Amy Mihyang is one such adoptee. She was adopted by a white couple when she was 3 months old and spent her childhood in upstate New York, where she was in her first play at age 5. Around the same time, she began voice work for a local radio station and in her early teens appeared in her first professional stage production, Inherit the Wind. She has since performed in shows in the United States, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

In recent years, her theater work has been influenced by her personal odyssey to find her birth family. In 2004, she reunited with her birth mother during a trip she took to South Korea with her adoptive father. She even lived with her birth family during a monthlong stay in 2006. Then, two years ago, Amy Mihyang (Her surname is Ginther, but she goes by the stage name of Amy Mihyang, which combines her first name and Korean name) decided to move to Korea to live and work. Last year, she starred in Seoul Players’ production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.


This past spring, Amy Mihyang, who has studied the Korean language and pansori, performed a show she had written called between: growing up (adopted), which opened in Seoul to positive reviews, and she hopes to bring it to the U.S.

She came up with the idea for the one-woman show, in which she plays a half-dozen Korean adoptee characters, while studying at Hofstra University in New York. Her research for the show connected her with other Korean adoptees around the globe and served as her “education into our collective adoptee experience.” She is part of an adoptee community that has come to see itself as part of a distinct diaspora.  Nearly 300,000 children from South Korea have been adopted into primarily white families in 15 countries across North America, Europe and Australia since the end of the Korean War. These children often contend with issues of loss, race and culture on a complex level, and even the most loving adoptive families cannot fully identify with the nature of these experiences.

Her play’s run in Seoul came amid a sea change on the issue of intercountry adoption within South Korea. Because the majority of South Korean children placed come from single-parent homes, campaigns and new laws to overturn the longtime stigma and lack of social support for single mothers have emerged. Continue reading

KA Adoptee Charged With Manslaughter After Race-Charged Brawl

A Korean American adoptee from Chicago has been charged with involuntary manslaughter following a racially-motivated fight that occurred during the Fourth of July weekend, according to news reports.

James Kieffer Malecek, 19, allegedly punched Kevin Kennelly Jr., 17, on a beach at the posh lakeside community of Long Beach, Ind., about 45 miles from Chicago. The fight, according to witnesses, started after Kennelly’s friends began harassing Malecek’s 16-year-old sister, also Korean, about her red, white and blue bandanna.

Locals say Malecek was reacting to another youth’s comment that his sister should not be wearing the patriotic bandanna, according to the NY Times.

Kevin Kennelly reportedly was trying to separate Mr. Malecek and another youth when he was punched. He lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital, where he was put on life support and died on July 6 from blunt-force trauma to the head. Mr. Malecek turned himself in to LaPorte, Ind., police the next day. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery and battery, released on $25,000 bail and later pleaded not guilty.

Malecek is due back in court on Sept. 1, according to ABC 7 Chicago.

Neighbors described the 19-year-old would-be college freshman, who goes by “Jake,” Continue reading

Thursday's Link Attack: Apple, Grace Park, Korean Adoptees

South Korean Lawyer Plans Class-Action Suit Against Apple
The Wall Street Journal

Apple Inc.’s South Korea unit last month paid about $950 to a South Korean lawyer who sued the company after Apple acknowledged that its iPhone retained location information about users.

The attorney, Kim Hyung-seok, on Thursday said he plans to file a class-action lawsuit against the company on behalf of other people allegedly affected by the matter.

U.S. Senate sets hearing on Sung Kim’s nomination

The U.S. Senate plans to hold a confirmation hearing for Sung Kim, the nominee to become ambassador to South Korea, next week, a related committee announced Thursday.

‘Hawaii Five-0′ back in action
Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Hugs and handshakes were the order of the day as a gallery of news cameras clicked to document the return of the show’s main players: Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. They were joined by series regulars Masi Oka, Taylor Wily and child actor Teilor Grubbs, who plays Danny “Danno” Williams’ daughter on the series.

Grace Park talks about the upcoming second season for Hawaii Five-0

Man U’s South Korean soccer superstar coming to Seattle
Northwest Asian Weekly

Manchester United will continue its U.S. tour with a stop in Seattle July 20. Former South Korean national team captain Ji Sung Park scored a goal in the Red Devils friendly win over the New England Revolution yesterday.

The Find: Jun Won’s farm-fresh Korean cuisine
Los Angeles Times

A sparkling multicolored spread of dishes on every table gives the place the feel of a lavish tapas party. Fish is the star of the menu, but that’s only one reason the 18-year-old restaurant’s loyal clientele keeps returning. The seasonal array of eight or nine banchan (which may include a toss of sesame-dressed sukkat (young chrysanthemum greens), fresh parsley salad, tiny burger patties and seasoned eggplant) outshines those found at most Korean barbecues.

Owner Jung Ye Jun gets many of her leafy greens from friends who farm them in Bakersfield, says her son Jeff Jun, who now manages the restaurant. For years people would ask to buy extra banchan to go. Finally, at the urging of loyal customers, Jung Ye Jun opened a small retail boutique on Olympic Boulevard, where she makes and sells her banchan along with kimchi in the typical style of her home province, Chungcheongnam-do.

Camp teaches adopted Korean children about their native culture
Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester, N.Y.)

Attending Camp Chin-Gu as a youth and teenager, Amanda Ornt-Rezer had one overarching reaction: Everyone here is just like me.

Now 24 years old, Ornt-Rezer is married, lives in Virginia Beach and is expecting her first child.

But she still makes the weeklong trip to the Fairport camp each year, where she now helps teach young adopted Korean children — and their siblings — about their native culture.

Blind Adoptee Has Amazing Vocal Ability

by Colin Takahashi

Just when Helen Choi thought life couldn’t get any more normal, things completely changed.

While watching SBS’s 20th Anniversary Special last November, Helen Choi turned away from doing the dishes after hearing Areum Lee sing, but what kept her watching was Areum’s talent even after realizing she was blind, according to The Star-Ledger. It was then that she made the decision to adopt Areum, so that she could help her utilize her talent to the fullest extent.

While in South Korea, Areum underwent training to become a massage therapist, a typical occupation for the blind in East Asia.But even with two more years of training to become licensed it was not guaranteed she would be able to obtain employment.

Choi believes that Areum will have a higher likelihood of working in America since South Koreans who are handicapped often face job discrimination.

Currently training with Nadine Herman of the Newark School of Arts, Areum is praised for her perfect pitch and her ability to sing in English, although she knows nothing of the language. Helen hopes that Areum can instill hope in handicapped people and show them that it is possible to succeed in life despite certain setbacks.

“It’s clear in my mind that she has total total perfect pitch because she, in her ear, can pick up anything, at anytime, no matter what it is,” Herman said.

Monday's Link Attack: Fast Food Too Fast, Korean Britney Spears, More

Danger on wheels: fast food delivery in South Korea
Christian Science Monitor

There has been a steady increase in the number of accidents involving motorcycle deliverymen, raising concerns that Korea’s obsession with being fast may need to be adjusted.

In 2009, there were 1,395, part of 4,962 injuries or deaths involving motorcycles in the restaurant and lodging industry during the past six years. And a recent poll of delivery drivers showed nearly 50 percent of those using motorcycles had indicated they had been involved in a road accident during the course of their work.

Derek Hough and the ‘Korean Britney Spears’ heat up film set with steamy kissing scenes
The Daily Mail (UK)

I guess BoA is the Korean Britney Spears. I thought this (below) was the Korean Britney Spears.

The former Dancing With The Stars professional was spotted in a steamy clinch with Korean popstar BoA Kwon as they shot scenes for Cobu 3D in Toronto, Canada.

Korean noodle maker in hot water over advertising

Top South Korean noodle maker Nongshim ran into unexpected trouble from the nation’s fair trade officials, who Monday slapped the company with a steep fine for exaggerating the nutritional value of a new brand of instant noodles.

Students share time with defectors
Korea Herald

A group of high school students has been making regular visits to North Korean defectors who are patients at the National Medical Center, and offering their friendship.

Hurdles remain for Korean adoption
Korea Herald

Now that the government has reduced the quota for overseas adoptions to 1,013 to shed Korea’s image as one of the largest “orphan exporters,” the number of children that need to be adopted in-country is estimated to have taken off at a dramatic pace.

Insiders claim that the actual number of children abandoned and in need of families is actually much higher since some legal restraints keep a substantial number of children from being legally adopted.

Sending couples to the altar in style
JoongAng Daily

Jung Lee, a Korean-American wedding planner who runs her own firm, Fete, in New York, helped the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul overhaul its wedding planning services.

Traveler delights in South Korean journey, but glad to be home
The Times and Democrat (S.C.)

Here is a foreigner’s perspective on modern-day Korea.

[T&D Correspondent Larry Jordan] and his wife, Bonnie, recently returned from their nine-week visit there, where son Paul is stationed at United States Army Garrison Humphreys in Anjung-ri, south of Seoul.

Most people grow crops in every space available to use for themselves or to sell. Since most small farmers use hothouses to grow their vegetables, you can buy every kind of vegetable year-round. All sorts of products — vegetables, chickens, seafood and crafts — are sold at markets that abound in every city or village. Throughout the country, street markets are held on every date that ends with a three or an eight. They line the sidewalks, and it is a delight to stroll through and see the vast array of products for sale. The discerning shopper can find many bargains.

Homegrown Idols
Wall Street Journal

It’s like a pan-Asian version of the Backstreet Boys. Seasoned American music execs are spearheading efforts to make Blush the next big thing in America. The all-girl group features a member from South Korea, Japan, China by way of India, and the Philippines.

The story sounds like a teenage dream. But, in the mold of The Monkees or the Spice Girls, Blush is the product of a team of producers with a hard-nosed business plan. Five years in the making, the group’s sound and image has been carefully managed and tested against focus groups of teenage girls. Already, band members have adopted cute nicknames Queen V, Nacho, Jelly, Ali B and Tiger Lady.

“This all started with a simple thought: Why hasn’t a singer of Asian descent ever made it really big in the West?” says Jon Niermann, a youthful 45-year-old who founded Far West Entertainment, the Hong Kong-based media production company behind the band.

Public art rubs Seoul the wrong way
LA Times

Critics of an urban improvement effort in the South Korean capital that requires developers to provide public art say the law generated too many works that many find objectionable. It has been changed.