More South Korean adoptees demand probes into their cases

Dec 8, 2022, 8:23 AM | Updated: 11:05 pm
FILE - Peter Møller, fourth from left, attorney and co-founder of the Danish Korean Rights Group, ...

FILE - Peter Møller, fourth from left, attorney and co-founder of the Danish Korean Rights Group, attends a press conference with a group of South Korean adoptees in front of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Seoul, South Korea on Nov. 15, 2022. Nearly 400 South Koreans adopted as children by families in the West have requested South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigate their adoptions through application deadline on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, as Seoul faces growing pressure to reckon with a child export frenzy driven by dictatorships that ruled the country until the 1980s. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Nearly 400 South Koreans adopted as children by families in the West have requested South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigate their adoptions through Friday’s application deadline, as Seoul faces growing pressure to reckon with a child export frenzy driven by dictatorships that ruled the country until the 1980s.

The commission on Thursday said it decided to investigate 34 cases among the 51 adoptees who first submitted their applications in August, which could possibly develop into the country’s most far-reaching inquiry into foreign adoptions yet.

A total of 63 adoptees from the United States, Europe and Australia submitted applications to the commission on Friday, claiming their adoptions were marred by falsified documents that laundered child statuses or identities as agencies raced to send thousands of children abroad each year.

The adoptees accused agencies of fabricating documents to ensure their adoptability, such as falsely registering them as orphans when they had living relatives or switching their identities with other children, which have resulted in lost connections or false reunions with birth relatives.

Similar issues have been raised by many of the 306 adoptees who previously submitted applications in past months, as they called for the commission to pressure agencies into fully opening their documents and to establish whether the government was responsible for the corrupt practices.

Most of the applications were filed through the Danish Korean Rights Group, led by adoptee attorney Peter Møller, who during a news conference on Friday called for South Korean officials to take active steps to prevent agencies from concealing or destroying records.

“It’s a big, great concern because now the clock is ticking,” Møller said. “They are going to do the investigation, either taking 30 or 50 (cases) at a time … and we have great concern (agencies) will … hide the documents.”

The commission’s officials say the investigation will almost certainly widen as it believes the evidence is clear that adoptions were facilitated through falsified documents that laundered child statuses or identities. The commission will review whether to accept the applications received after August in the coming months and may fuse the cases it sees as similar to speed up the inquiry.

The 34 adoptees whose cases were accepted by the commission had been placed through Holt Children’s Services and the Korea Social Service. The commission’s investigation would also eventually include the Eastern Social Welfare Society and Korea Welfare Services if it accepts the cases submitted Friday by adoptees in the United States, Australia and Sweden.

Jasmine Healey, who represents a group of adoptees sent to the United States and Australia through Eastern, said it has been common for Eastern adoptees to discover they were made into fake “paper orphans” by the agency in order to facilitate their adoptions overseas.

There were also cases where Eastern supposedly deceived the adoptees’ biological families, who never gave consent to their adoptions, or adoptees growing up with the identities of another child, which has led to some being reunited with the wrong family.

“The lifelong impacts of these injustices on adoptees, their Korean families and adopted families cannot be understated,” Healey said.

“The inability to know who you are, who you belonged to, where you came from, to be cut off from knowing your family history, which is such a strong pillar of identity, the consequences of this could be dire or sometimes devastating for adoptees.”

Eastern did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

About 200,000 South Koreans, mostly girls, were adopted overseas during the past six decades, mainly to white parents in the United States and Europe.

The agencies were run by board members close to military leaders, who saw adoptions as a tool to reduce the number of mouths to feed and to remove the socially undesirable, including children from unwed mothers or poor families.

Adoptions were also aimed at deepening ties with the democratic West amid a fierce regime competition with rival North Korea, according to the military governments’ documents obtained by AP.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Zoubin Ghahramani, vice president of research at Google, speaks at the Google AI@ event on W...
Associated Press

Google has the next move as Microsoft embraces OpenAI buzz

Before the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT was unleashed into the world, the novelist Robin Sloan was testing a similar AI writing assistant built by researchers at Google.
13 hours ago
budgets...
Associated Press

Group’s lawsuit seeks to void Washington transportation law

A conservative legal advocacy organization is suing to halt the nearly $17 billion transportation funding bill passed by the Washington Legislature and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee last year.
13 hours ago
Cricket Hall speaks against a bill that would ban gender-affirming surgery and hormone therapy for ...
Associated Press

Crowds decry gender-affirming treatment ban in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Crowds at the West Virginia state Capitol pleaded with lawmakers Thursday to show as much compassion for saving the lives of transgender children as they showed for unborn fetuses when they voted to ban abortion just months ago. Over and over, dozens of doctors, parents and LGBTQ people told the Republican […]
2 days ago
FILE - President Joe Biden holds notes as he meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the ...
Associated Press

Biden’s handwritten notes part of classified docs probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is a man who writes down his thoughts. And some of those handwritten musings over his decades of public service are now a part of a special counsel’s investigation into the handling of classified documents. It isn’t clear yet what the investigators are looking for by taking custody of […]
2 days ago
FILE - President Joe Biden talks with reporters after speaking in the East Room of the White House ...
Associated Press

Biden’s handwritten notes part of classified docs probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is a man who writes down his thoughts. And some of those handwritten musings over his decades of public service are now a part of a special counsel’s investigation into the handling of classified documents. It isn’t clear yet what the investigators are looking for by taking custody of […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Dana Milbank’s ‘Fools On the Hill’ scheduled for 2024

NEW YORK (AP) — Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank is planning a book on the House of Representatives, and it will not be flattering. Little, Brown and Company announced Thursday that Milbank’s “Fools on the Hill” is scheduled for 2024, an election year. Milbank, whose previous books include “Smash Mouth: Two Years in the Gutter […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
More South Korean adoptees demand probes into their cases