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Jeong Dong-hwa and Park Seong-hun are double-cast in the role of Min-su, the dutiful child who does not want to betray his parents' expectations. The bold faced vegetable store bachelor Tina, who is in love with Min-su, is played in rotation by Oh Eui-sik and Kang Jeong-u. Cha Su-yeon and Son Ji-yun play the role of Hyo-jin, the gynecologist that wants to become a mother while Hyo-jin's lover Seo-yeong the documentary maker is played by Lee An-na. Indispensable to the play are Kim Hyo-sook, Kim dae-jong, Lee I-rim, Yoo Sang-uk, Gu Do-gyoon and Lee Jeong-su.
By Kristin R. Pak
The intercountry adoption (ICA) market is driven by demand from rich countries and commodifies the most vulnerable people. It’s unsustainable as child welfare, and does great harm wherever the market emerges. Realpolitik policies that trade in humans for leverage are unconscionable, but dress them in fateful red thread narratives and a savior aura, and they are not just palatable, but seem magnanimous and altruistic. The marketing and branding of poor children as orphans with no past and no hope for the future started here in South Korea, and has been replicated again and again throughout the (former) second and third worlds. The justifications for UN-regulated human trafficking range from discrimination to poverty to evangelism. Ignored is how little ICA does to address the systemic problems that created poverty, the legal and institutionalized discrimination that force people to the margins of society, and the failed government programs that restrict families to one child. Furthermore, the continuing interference that the west (particularly the United States) perpetrates in the developing world, disrupts traditional communities and livelihoods.
Babies and children are traded in return for money– profits for adoption agencies, hard currency for poor countries, fees for lawyers, revenue for hospitals, and “donation” income for orphanages while at the same time releasing a bit of pressure that these rather-be-forgotten troubles put on a society. Poor families, biracial babies, unwed mothers, addicts and mentally ill patients all should be hidden or gotten rid of in the speediest, most profitable way possible, but only a limited amount can be sent away. We can’t be kept out. Thousands of us are returning every year, demanding the truth. We’re joining in solidarity with others who have stayed to change laws, provide services, and reform society.
Why have some of the 200,000 of us who were sent away to be adopted returning?* Why do we come to visit South Korea in the thousands every year? Why are we in solidarity with unwed and single mothers and families who have lost their children to adoption? We don’t (necessarily) come back to South Korea because our childhoods were bad (although many were horrendous). We come back to learn the truth about what Korea is in a way that only a visit can. We come to find our families and the truth because the adoption agencies constantly lie to us. We choose to live here for extended times to reclaim our mother tongue. We settle here to change Korean society so no more children are separated from their mothers, fathers, histories and personal truths.
And we organize. Adoption Solidarity Korea (ASK), Truth and Reconciliation Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea (TRACK), and Global Overseas Adoptee Link (GOA’L) were founded by adoptees living in Korea so the thousands who come back every year have a community and support to find their way in Korea and their place in history. We work in solidarity with unwed mothers so families can stay together, despite unjust policies driven by stigmas against the women and their children. We identify as migrants who were forced away from Korea and perhaps compelled to return again as economic refugees or deported Americans, along with the other new face of Korea which is multilingual, multicultural, and more diverse. We hope to transform Korea, and we have the right to do so as Koreans.
Back in the late 1990s the government tried to use us as bridges between our adoptive countries and South Korea. Although I disagree with the assumption that we would automatically feel any obligation to do so, it was clear from the First Lady’s address to us in 1999 that the Blue House was including us in the great Korean diaspora. In our quasi-Korean/foreigner hybridity, we learned tolerance was the least a society owes to its most maligned, even if the right to equality is ignored. We are claiming our birthright as born ROK citizens and making statements about justice and human rights here. Our experiences as foreigners in our adoptive countries and the racism and discrimination that goes along with it has equipped us to fight as citizens even if we have foreigner status on our ARCs.
We had to change laws to get those, too. Although we’re now eligible for F4 visas, which allow us to live in Korea and work (as long as it’s not as a laborer), we had to convince Immigration that we were also overseas Koreans because there was no category for us. You see, we weren’t supposed to return. The marketing worked so well that it became the Truth: we were saved from growing up in a poor country, in poor families. That was the story from the end of the war and continues until 2014. South Korea is now a highly developed country economically, thanks in part to the hard currency we brought in. We were supposed to be fully assimilated into white Christian families and forget we were Korean, grateful for all the West would give to us. Instead, we commit political acts just by living in Korea, by making waves and demanding a change in the laws.
Perhaps because of the returnees like me, Korea will create a template for closing its intercountry adoption program like it has repeatedly promised to do since it was shamed1 as a baby-exporting country. I hope it does, because intercountry adoption is a demand driven industry that hurts Korea. It has retarded the growth of an adequate social welfare state, a major characteristic of a developed society. (We still have childcare facilities, because adoption does not solve child welfare problems.) ICA makes Korea complicit in human trafficking for hard currency it no longer needs. Just as the rest of the world followed Korea’s example into selling away its children, Korea can lead the way out of the ICA industry.
*I use the passive voice here deliberately because the people who were sent for adoption were not the protagonists, but the object of the action.
1”The year 1988 was a turning point in South Korea’s adoption history. The Seoul International Olympics attracted the attention of journalists worldwide about many aspects of Korean culture, and much of thisattention focused on Korea’s primary export: its babies. Journalists like Bryant Gumbel of NBC commented that Korea’s primary export commodity was its babies, and articles like “Babies for Export” (The New York Times) and “Babies for Sale: South Koreans Make Them, Americans Buy Them” (The Progressive), embarrassed the South Korean government. North Korea also criticized South Korea’s adoption program, pointing out that selling its children to Western countries was the ultimate form of capitalism. As a result, the South Korean government delayed the scheduled departure of adopted children before and during the Olympics. And the number of Korean children adopted by American families began to decrease, from over 6,200 in 1986 to just over 1,700 in 1993.” http://www.pbs.org/pov/firstpersonplural/history_southkorea.php
When I found out that our Aunt Kathy was coming to visit us in Korea, I knew I wanted to plan some special things for us to do — not just your regular ‘hit the tourist spots’ trip. I wanted it to be a good balance of the famous tourist spots (after all, they’re famous for a reason) and a look into our everyday lives. The first thing I thought of was to do a food tour with Zen Kimchi. We went on Zen Kimchi’s Dark Side of Seoul tour earlier this year, and since we had a great time we knew we wanted to try one of their food tours. But, because it was Chuseok weekend, they didn’t have any tours planned. Thankfully, Joe (founder of Zen Kimchi) agreed to organize one for us!
We showed up on the day to a good sized group of foreigners from Australia, China, and America. After introductions we took a walk down Mapo Food Street, which isn’t all that impressive in and of it self, but it was interesting to see! The street does house a restaurant that was featured on Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods, 해물나라 (seafood country), where Andrew ate the deadly blowfish.
After a bit of walking and a few anecdotes from Joe, we reached our first stop, and the main attraction! A restaurant on Galmegi street called Jeong Daepo 정대포 serving pork skirt meat and salt rubbed pork belly in the Mapo-style with a trough of egg, kimchi, and green onion surrounding the meat. It’s by far my favorite style of Korean BBQ, and this restaurant is probably the best I’ve had!
We gorged ourselves on meat and beer, without really thinking about our next stop. It may have been a mistake, but it was a delicious mistake! The next stop was a famous chilled buckwheat noodle 메밀막국수 restaurant, one of my favorite summer dishes. I have to say I did not go into this restaurant expecting to be blown away by chilled noodles, but I was. The restaurant is called Bongpyeong Memil Makguksu 봉평메밀막국수, and they have THE BEST BROTH EVER. Noodle dishes are all about the broth, and the chilled noodle dishes usually have a very one-note broth. But this broth strangely makes you think, it’s so good. We sat around with the tour group speculating about what could be in the broth, but unfortunately we were still pretty full so we didn’t eat that much of the noodles! The broth was totally worth it though. Did I mention the broth was good? Another specialty of the restaurant is their 메밀꽃술 Memil Ggot Sul (Buckwheat flower makgeolli rice beer). As Joe explains in the video, unique flavored makgeollis are a recent trend in Korea, and I definitely approve. This one was really smooth and flowery, and not as dirty-tasting as normal makgeolli.
At this point we were really feeling all the food and booze, so of course off we went to a third place! We walked over to a famous jeon (korean pancake) market near Gongdeok station, where crowds of people were making their Chuseok purchases, jeon being one of the main food eaten during the holiday. We fought through the crowd and into an alley that led to steep, wooden stairs going up to a restaurant above the market! They were insanely busy and it was hard to even order, but the wait was well worth it. I know I keep saying this, but the assorted plate of Korean pancakes was by far the best I’ve had in Korea. In case you’re confused, Korean pancakes refer to anything fried, like tempura, if you’re more familiar with the Japanese term. The batter was crispy, but not too oily, and fried to perfection. It was a far cry from the chewy, cold fried shrimp I’ve had at a few street food stalls. There was fried pumpkin, fried shrimp, oysters, scallops, fish, potato, kimbap, you name it! We also had a variety of alcohol here, starting with dongdongju 동동주, a more rustic rice beer, baeksaju 백새주, a medicinal wine, and apple makgeolli. Amazingly we ate and drank most of what we ordered despite it being our 3rd dinner, and it was a great way to end the tour.
If you are living in or visiting Seoul, I highly recommend one of the food tours with Zen Kimchi. A lot of research goes into these tours, and Joe is a great guide to the neighborhoods and the food. Not only is the food delicious, the tour also gives you a chance to learn about the food you’re eating and the proper way to dine in Korea.
Have you done any food tours while traveling? This was our first one. Let us know in the comments!
Watch Our Video about our Temple Experience Here:
So the amazing 5 Day Deal is almost over and there is just a few more hours to get in on this deal. Actually by the time that I finish this post there will probably be only an hour left. It finishes at 1 am here in Korea or 12 pm EST for the western world. That means that your time is running to get your hands on one of the most amazing bundles of photography resources that you can buy.
Over the last 5 days I have spread the word about the deal for 3 reasons. Number 1 is that this deal helps out 4 charities and so far they have very close to raising $200,000 for them. They just need about 900 more sales to double their goal!! Number 2 is that this is a really great deal and one for so cheap you’d be a fool to pass on it. Well… maybe that is harsh but you know what I mean. Over $2000 worth of resources that will improve your photography for just $89! Come on!
Number 3 is there is a ton of great content in the bundle. Typically, with some of these package deals you get one thing that is really good or at least that you want and then the rest is crap. However, this has a lot and I mean a lot of great stuff. If you follow my blog then you know my style. I don’t do portraits, weddings, or kiddie photos. The biggest problem I have is finding packages and ebooks that have stuff that I don’t already know. This is full of stuff that I didn’t know and that I absolutely love and that is saying a lot.
As you know, I am a fan of David’s work and his books. This Canadian photographer is known worldwide for his awesome humanitarian photography, his series of books and his Craft & Vision site. I love how this man thinks. In this bundle you not only get a selection of some of David’s awesome ebooks but access to his talks and though are worth their weight in gold. I sat just thinking about everything that I have learned about photography during these videos and not once did he talk about how to set up your camera. It was amazing to finally put a voice to the words that I have read and found so inspiring.
Nicole S. Young
I follow this lady a lot… online. Her photographs are stunning and I find Nicole a very personable photographer. She’s one of those people that just inspire me to work harder and be more positive. In this bundle you get to a series of videos that show her workflow and photographic process. You actually get to see her thought process as chooses her shots to publish and how she edits them. For me this is interesting because I alway wonder what goes through the minds of the top photographers. How do they choose which shots and why?
Another great photographer is Christopher O’Donnell. He has some amazing shots and ones that simple will make you drool. How does he get them? Well you get a few of his ebooks but more importantly, you get his complete exposure blending course!! That is the ebook, sample images and 8 videos!! This is one of the hottest techniques these days and you are getting a full course included in this bundle! Need I say more?Time’s Running Out!! Buy IT!!
Don’t Be that Guy…. or Gal!
Since the first time I was an affiliate for the 5 Day Deal, I tried to get the word out around here. It the tools and tricks that I learned from the original bundle was overwhelming. However, when I talked to people about it I got “yeah… I saw that…” and then they would shell out tons of cash for the same ebooks or software! Don’t be that guy or gal that has to think about a bundle of amazing tools to help you become a better photographer (also helping charity) and then has to shell out more cash to only get a fraction of the original bundle. Just think about it… you owe it to yourself to study from the best and really shot the world what you can do.BUY IT NOW!!
Although camping has always been popular, with campsites often booked months in advance, glamping (or glamorous camping) offers a bit of luxury to those seeking to get the full experience of the great outdoors without sacrificing any creature comforts of civilization.
Raventree in Gappyeong, located just a forty minute's drive from Gangnam, is not only the most conveniently located glamping site in Korea, but is also one of the most beautiful. A couple weeks ago, a friend and I packed our bags and made our way out to the rolling landscapes of Gyeonggi Province. Thanks to her GPS, the site was easy to find, and offered a scenic route which conveniently passed by some tasty restaurants and snack stalls, as the glamping anticipation worked up our appetites.
Upon arrival, our eyes widened at the site of the campground's lavish tents, arranged in a neat semi-circle and perched on the side of a mountain overlooking a picturesque valley. Unable to contain our excitement, we jumped out the car and were quickly welcomed by the friendly manager of the campground who escorted us to our home for the evening. We wasted no time in exploring our two-story tent, an incredible shelter unlike any I had seen before.
In the lower level of this two-story tent was a kitchen and living area that extends out onto the wooden deck. Equipped with a mini-fridge, a hot plate, cutlery, plates, pots and pans, the room offers everything one might need to prepare a hot bowl of ramen, a simple camping meal or a feast (as we would later learn many visitors opt for). The sleeping area upstairs is accessed via a ladder and is completely screened in, so as to keep out bugs. Additionally, it is fairly spacious and easily fits two people very comfortably, but is also big enough for a family with two small children.
We took a walk around the site, which boasts a nice pond, a playground, shower facilities, a dish-washing station, a convenience store that sells snacks, drinks and basic camping necessities, and the quintessential karaoke machine. (This is Korea, after all.)
The sun began to set on the campground and as clusters of constellations and a full moon claimed the crystal clear skies, the friendly manager stopped by our tent with plenty of firewood (that he would refill throughout the evening) to help us start up a fire in the raised pit on our deck. He also delivered the Raventree BBQ Glamping Combo that we ordered ahead of time for an additional cost. Packed in our set was a tasty variety of pork, sausage, shrimp, veggies, kimchi and condiments. We got right to grilling and inhaled lettuce wraps of barbecue goodness and slurped down cold beer. It was all very good but my friend and I agreed that bringing our own food on the next visit would be far more economical.
I had intentionally made the reservation for this particular night, as I knew there would be a full moon, but to to our surprise, a lunar eclipse also took place. Families gathered together after dinner to marvel at the spectacular site, one that I am sure wouldn't have been as nearly as impressive in the city.
Just as we finished up another round of beers, an American gentleman invited my friend and I to join his gumbo party a few tents down. Not ones to turn down gumbo, we joined the feast that was already well under way. The group had packed all sorts of treats and were quick to share as we exchanged travel stories and playlist recommendations. It never ceases to amaze me that despite being out in the middle of nowhere, there are always new friends to be made and laughs to be had.
Unlike most campsites in Korea, Raventree was occupied by families and couples rather than the rowdy groups of intoxicated ajusshi (old men) that tend to shout and blare trot music all through the night. With this added sense of calm, my friend and I had no problem falling right to sleep. Additionally, despite the frigid temperatures, the heated mats under our pallets kept us cozy. From the beginning of November, heaters are installed in the lower level of the tents to provide extra warmth, making camping in the winter not only possible, but also enjoyable.
I woke to a view of misty mountains in the morning and after whipping up a mug of hot cocoa, bundled up and did a bit of reading on the deck, a last attempt to enjoy the great outdoors before check-out.
Sure, a stay at Raventree isn't exactly roughing it and some might even consider it a bit too pricey for a night out in the middle of nowhere. However, I could equate our stay to that of one in a decent hotel, but with the added benefit of good service, friendly neighbors, fresh air, incredible surroundings and a memorable experience that only the nature of the Korean countryside can offer.
More Information: Raventree
Address: 10 Wegoklee Seorak-myeon Gaypeong Gyunggi-do (경기도 가평군 설악면 위곡리 10)
Phone Number: +82 2-1688-8614
Price: Tents 165,000 won/ night (Sun-Thurs); 177,000 won/ night (Friday); 198,000 won/ night (Saturday, holidays); Premium BBQ Combo Set (2 people) 98,000 won
Reservations: By the Raventree website (Korean), Glamping.com (English) or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org (English)
Facebook: Click Here
Get There: Take bus number 7000 from Exit 9 of Jamsil Station (Subway Line 2 or 8) to Seorak-myeon (설악면) (4,000 won). The bus runs every hour and the travel time is about 40 minutes. After arriving at Seorak-myeon, take a taxi to Raventree (about 8,000 won).
Disclaimer: Although Raventree provided accommodations free of charge in return for this post, the opinions are, of course, my own.
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.
In pop culture, MT Media has a story (Korean) about Why gays and lesbians would marry each other in reference to Two Weddings and a Funeral: The Musical and Harisu spoke on on how she is sick of Rumors that her husband is transgender or gay. (Korean). Posture Mag asks Is KPop as Queer as it Appears to be?: Androgynous Fashion, Fan Service, and Boy Love in Korean Pop Culture
For some reason Twitter had this rumor that Korea bans lesbian music video. However, as Jezebel pointed out, there doesn't seem much proof in this claim. The video, with China's girl group SNH48, is just sub-textually lesbianic.
Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Eleven: What is your favorite part of the school day? Why?
Rather than a favorite part of the school day, I have a favorite day of the school week: Wednesdays! I absolutely love Wednesdays because that’s when I, the teacher, become the student–literally. The librarian at my school speaks excellent English and has graciously offered to help me learn Korean. So on Wednesdays we sit down together for an hour or so and she patiently leads me through the basics. And while she does so, students usually wander in when they have a break between classes.
This is where it gets really fun. When the opportunity presents itself, the librarian snatches a hold of an unassuming student, sits them down across from me, and coerces them into a brief langauge exchange. They listen as I say sample sentences/words in Korean, then I listen while they produce the English translation. For some of the kids, especially those with low English levels or a mortal fear of speaking, it’s the longest 2 minutes of their lives. But for most of them, they seem to enjoy the opportunity to interact with me in this informal setting, and they certainly get a kick out of the foreign teacher trying his hardest not to slaughter their native language. It’s during these short exchanges that I feel like I build better rapport with students, and show them that I too am struggling with another language. It’s my hope that as I continue to teach them in class, while also learning from them on the side, we’ll establish the kind of trust and familiarity that is needed in every successful foreign language classroom.
1. Maxi, our "corgi" mix puppy is growing well. (we are still unsure of his true breed). He is now 6 or 7 months old, really playful and active! Luckily there is a garden in Kimchi boy's home for this happy dog to dig and run in.
2. Kimchi boy has finally been called to serve his military! He is 29 years old.. Can you believe the Korean system ?! So.. no contact for a month, but after the initially first month physical training, he gets to continue his service as a government worker (9-6pm job). Counting down to 15 Nov 2014!
3. Cannot wait to complete my undergraduate studies at NUS. Traveling 1.5 hours to get to NUS from Yio Chu Kang for the past 3.5 years is no joke!!! (3 hours a day just spent on traveling).