A War Born Family: African American Adoption in the Wake of the Korean War

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2022-03-17 14:31Z by Steven

A War Born Family: African American Adoption in the Wake of the Korean War

New York University Press
January 2020
328 Pages
6.00 x 9.00 in
Hardcover ISBN: 9781479872329
Ebook ISBN: 9781479815869

Kori A. Graves, Associate Professor of History
University at Albany, State University of New York

The origins of a transnational adoption strategy that secured the future for Korean-black children

The Korean War left hundreds of thousands of children in dire circumstances, but the first large-scale transnational adoption efforts involved the children of American soldiers and Korean women. Korean laws and traditions stipulated that citizenship and status passed from father to child, which made the children of US soldiers legally stateless. Korean-black children faced additional hardships because of Korean beliefs about racial purity, and the segregation that structured African American soldiers’ lives in the military and throughout US society. The African American families who tried to adopt Korean-black children also faced and challenged discrimination in the child welfare agencies that arranged adoptions.

Drawing on extensive research in black newspapers and magazines, interviews with African American soldiers, and case notes about African American adoptive families, A War Born Family demonstrates how the Cold War and the struggle for civil rights led child welfare agencies to reevaluate African American men and women as suitable adoptive parents, advancing the cause of Korean transnational adoption.

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A promise kept

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-03 02:17Z by Steven

A promise kept

The Korea Times

Kang Hyun-kyung

The late Park Geun-sik (1954-2009) is captured in this photo taken in December 1992 in front of Korean-Amerasians Association in Seoul. He was one of the first batch of biracial Koreans born to a Korean mother and a U.S. soldier. / Noonbit Publishing

Photographer chronicles biracial Koreans living as strangers in homeland

Park Geun-sik, a biracial farmer and human rights activist who died of stomach cancer in 2009, had a dream that remained unfulfilled until his death.

Park, who was called Peter during his childhood for his half-Korean, half-Caucasian appearance, wanted his home country to remember people like him who were born to Korean mothers and American soldiers during and after the 1950-53 Korean War.

They were called “GI babies” when they were young and later “Korean-Amerasians” after they became adults. They were depicted by opinion leaders here as the “tragic outcome” of the war.

GI babies were the first batch of biracial Koreans who lived in this country, decades before the nation saw a surge of biracial children born to Korean fathers and foreign brides from Central and Southeast Asian countries who have been migrating to Korea since the 1990s.

Unlike now, when biracial children are entitled to various types of policy support and protection from the government, back then the GI babies were treated like unwanted children. Without policy support, they were bullied and discriminated against by their classmates in school and racial bias continued even after graduation.

Park’s humble dream ― the nation recognizing GI babies as part of Korea’s traumatic modern history and admitting the country’s mistreatment of them ― came true after his death.

Documentary photographer Lee Jae-gab, 53, chronicled the tragic lives of half-Koreans born during or after the Korean War and published four photo books based on the images he captured over the past 26 years…

Read the entire article here.

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Koreans & Camptowns: Reflections of a Mixed-Race Korean

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-06 01:37Z by Steven

Koreans & Camptowns: Reflections of a Mixed-Race Korean

Korean American Story

Cerrissa Kim

I’ve often stood out from the crowd, and not in a way that made me feel like a rock star—far from it. Growing up in a rural town filled with dairy cows and Caucasian farmers, and then in a bedroom community lacking ethnic diversity, I was the sole Asian kid at school until fifth grade. To my classmates, I was a slanty-eyed chink. Jap. Gook. Yigger. They’d never even heard of Korea.

I don’t look like my Irish/Scottish American father, nor do I have the distinctly Korean features of my mother. Like many mixed-race people of my generation, I was Asian to the outside world, but not Korean enough to the Korean side of my family. I’ve looked for faces that resembled mine in some small way everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve scanned crowded spaces and deserted diners—anywhere I traveled—hoping for camaraderie with others who might make me feel my appearance was normal.

This past September in Berkeley, California, I opened the doors to the David Brower Center, slightly nervous and excited, I stepped into a room filled with mixed-race Korean Americans attending the one-day Koreans and Camptowns Conference. Even though I grew up with my biological parents, I still carry the scars—physical and emotional—from being ostracized and bullied for looking different from the other children in my bucolic California communities. Many of the people attending the conference were Korean adoptees (KADs) who had even more reason to search through crowds to find someone who resembled them. Not only were most KADs raised in places with no other KADs or Koreans, but they also didn’t look anything like their adoptive parents and other family members.

During and after the Korean War, camptowns were established outside of military installations, offering locals a way to earn a living— including entertaining soldiers with nightclubs and prostitution. Many of the mixed-race children born between the 1950’s and 1970’s were conceived and born in these camptowns, fathered by American and other Allied soldiers. Their mothers, the camptown women, were marginalized by society because most of them came from poor families and had to work as cooks, maids, sex workers, or other low-paying jobs to support themselves as well as their parents, grandparents and siblings. These women often waited for fathers of their children to return, hoping for a way out of the grueling camptown life. But more often than not, this didn’t happen, either because the soldiers were uninterested in going back, or because the military made it difficult—or even impossible—for them to return and marry Korean women…

Read the entire article here.

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Koreans and Camptowns: Mixed-Race Adoptees and Camptown Connections

Posted in Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2015-11-04 02:36Z by Steven

Koreans and Camptowns: Mixed-Race Adoptees and Camptown Connections

David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way
Berkeley, California 94704
2015-09-26, 09:00-17:00 PDT (Local Time)

In cooperation with the Center for Korean Studies, University of California, Berkeley, we were excited to host a one-day conference to learn more about the camptowns that developed alongside American military bases in Korea during and after the Korean War. The conference spotlighted the intersection of American military presence and Korean society, focusing on exploring the lives of people who lived in the camptowns and the historical context surrounding the overseas adoption of thousands of mixed-race children. We will be sharing conference highlights as they become available. Be sure to check back.

For more information, click here.

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The Forsaken: Portraits of Mixed-Race Orphans in Postwar Korea

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive on 2014-12-04 19:48Z by Steven

The Forsaken: Portraits of Mixed-Race Orphans in Postwar Korea

TIME Magazine

David Kim
Yale Law School

Joo Myung Duck (1940-)

Pictures made in the ’60s by a young photographer, Joo Myung Duck, depict the mixed-race children of foreign servicemen and Korean women

On July 27, 1953, a ceasefire ended open hostilities in the Korean War, and the United Nations, the People’s Republic of China, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) established a border and a demilitarized zone at the 38th parallel. After three years of fighting, the border between north and south was, in effect, exactly where it had been prior to the beginning of the war. The Republic of Korea (South Korea) refused to join the armistice; and, as a formal peace treaty was never signed, South and North Korea today remain technically at war, 60 years after the guns fell silent.

Nearly three million people died or went missing in the war, in which North Korean and Chinese troops fought an international force comprised largely of Americans. Of those three million, more than half were civilians, and most were Korean. Since the mid-1950s, meanwhile, the American military has maintained a heavy presence in South Korea; this footprint is the uneasy foundation that underlies relations between the two countries.

The photos in this gallery were made in the early 1960s by Joo Myung Duck, then a young photojournalist. They depict mixed-race orphans, the children of foreign servicemen and Korean women, at the Holt orphanage in Seoul. Most of these children were born after the war, and they were abandoned by nearly everyone: by their fathers, who rarely remained in Korea; by their mothers, who endured ostracism and social stigma; and by the Korean government, which endorsed a politics of racial purity and sought to expel mixed-race children from the country.

In exploring these realities, Joo’s photographs are at-once inquisitive, undaunted, and gentle, attending carefully to variations in racial appearance while suggesting the centrality of Christian faith at Holt. His highly formal compositions revel in visual detail. And, in large part, he avoids sentimentality…

Read the entire article and view the photographs here.

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