“Where do I fit in?” A conversation with Korean adoptees

Certain aspects of Korean culture are having a “moment” in the United States, which has given voice to many oft underrepresented Asian American voices. But one group of Asian Americans are frequently overlooked: adoptees. I spoke with four Korean adoptees raised in the United States about their unique experiences.

Given that most adoptees from Korea are raised by adoptive parents who are not Korean, many Korean adoptees have different experiences from that of their Asian-American peers raised by their biological families. In addition, many Korean adoptees report being discriminated against for being both Asian and also adopted.

The extended interview with Megan can be found here:

The extended interview with Ben can be found here:

The extended interview with Ethan can be found here:


#1: Lauren, Lauren Yoshiko. “Crazy Rich Asians Is First Major Hollywood Film in 25 Years With All-Asian Principal Cast.” Willamette Week, http://www.wweek.com/arts/movies/2018/08/16/crazy-rich-asians-is-first-major-hollywood-film-in-25-years-with-all-asian-principal-cast/. 

#2: Chung, Madelyn. “‘Crazy Rich Asians Isn’t Just a Movie-It’s a Sign That I Matter, Too.’” Flare, 1 Aug. 2018, http://www.flare.com/tv-movies/crazy-rich-asians-movie-representation/.

#3: Scaife, Steven Nguyen. “Crazy Rich Asians Has Survived Impossible Representation Standards.” The Verge, The Verge, 28 Aug. 2018, http://www.theverge.com/2018/8/28/17788198/crazy-rich-asians-movie-representation-diversity-constance-wu-henry-golding-awkwafina.

#4: Hsu, Hua. “‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and the End Point of Representation.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 20 Aug. 2018, http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/crazy-rich-asians-and-the-end-point-of-representation.

#5: Chiu, Allyson. “Groundbreaking Crazy Rich Asians Instils Hope among Asian-Americans.” Thestar.com, 3 Aug. 2018, http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/television/2018/08/03/asian-americans-pin-hopes-on-groundbreaking-film.html.

#6: “An All-Asian Cast and No Martial Arts: Why the ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Movie Matters.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 26 Apr. 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/04/26/an-all-asian-cast-and-no-martial-arts-why-the-crazy-rich-asians-movie-matters/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.063a956295e3.

#7: Ito, Robert. “What Being in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Means to the Movie’s Stars.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Aug. 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/movies/actors-crazy-rich-asians-audition.html.

#8: BTS, One of the Hottest Music Groups in the World, Speaks out on ‘GMA’, Good Morning America, 26 Sept. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvF8-sQqaqY.

#9: Jimmy Interviews the Biggest Boy Band on the Planet BTS, The Tonight Show Staring Jimmy Fallon, 25 Sept. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4mmfzFazoI.

#10: The Full Speech That RM of BTS Gave at the United Nations, The Washington Post, 24 Sept. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhJ-LAQ6e_Y.

#11: BTS (방탄소년단) ‘MIC Drop (Steve Aoki Remix)’ Official MV, Big Hit Entertainment (빅히트엔터테인먼트), 24 Nov. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTlv5_Bs8aw.

#12: BTS MEETS DESIIGNER, Nicole Tan, 5 June 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqX4Fo4T418.

#13: BTS (방탄소년단) ‘IDOL (Feat. Nicki Minaj)’ Official MV, Big Hit Entertainment (빅히트엔터테인먼트), 6 Sept. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1scjjbfNsk.

#14: BTS (방탄소년단) ‘DNA’ Official MV, Big Hit Entertainment (빅히트엔터테인먼트), 18 Sept. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBdVXkSdhwU.

#15: BTS (방탄소년단) ‘ 눈물 (Blood Sweat & Tears)’ Official MV, Big Hit Entertainment (빅히트엔터테인먼트), 9 Oct. 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmE9f-TEutc.

#16: [MV] BTS(방탄소년단) _ I NEED U, 1theK (원더케이), 29 Apr. 2015, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMdTd9e-LEI.

#17: BIGBANG – ‘에라 모르겠다(FXXK IT)’ M/V, BIGBANG (빅뱅), 12 Dec. 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIPH8LFYFRk.

#18: 2NE1 – FOLLOW ME( 따라해봐요) M/V, YG Entertainment (와이지엔터테인먼트), 11 Mar. 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAJ6Xk9bnew.

#19: EPIK HIGH (에픽하이) – ‘BORN HATER’ (Feat. Beenzino, Verbal Jint, B.I, MINO, BOBBY) OFFICIAL M/V, Epik High (에픽하이), 18 Oct. 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s1jaFDrp5M.

#20: PSY – GANGNAM STYLE(강남스타일) M/V, PSY (싸이), 15 July 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0.

#21: [MV] San E(산이) _ Body Language (Feat. BUMKEY(범키)), 1theK (원더케이), 3 Aug. 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kdQmd5CNN4.

#22: [MV] K.will(케이윌) – Talk Love(말해! 뭐해?) l 태양의 후예 OST Part.6, MUSIC&NEW 뮤직앤뉴, 17 Mar. 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdHQkkRc-hc.

#23: (쿨럭쿨럭) 매운맛 폭발♨ 김보성(Kim Bo-Sung) 울리는 극한의불짬뽕냉장고를 부탁해(Take Care of My Refrigerator) 190회, JTBC Entertainment (제이티비씨 엔터테인먼트), 30 July 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvPljLzgZis.

#24: THE HANDMAIDEN scene02, Digital Chosunilbo, 19 July 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em07lymS-fQ.

#25: WarnerBrosPictures. CRAZY RICH ASIANS – Official Trailer, Warner Bros. Pictures, 23 Apr. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ-YX-5bAs0.

#26: Awkwafina & Ken Jeong Goes CRAZY Rapping!!! “Crazy Rich Asians”, Fab TV, 10 Aug. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cycyoaeHz18.

#27: CRAZY RICH ASIANS – Rainbow Sheep Of The Family Movie Clip, Warner Bros. Philippines, 15 Aug. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z401ArNWZvs.

#28: [부산행] 메인 예고편, MOVIE&NEW 무비앤뉴, 23 June 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOTOjA0ngmk.

#29: The Kids Are Maturing – Fresh Off The Boat, ABC, 18 Oct. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypQAIF-AYkQ.

#30: Schultz, Seneca. 27 Sept. 2018. Interview conducted via email.

#31: Oh, Arissa H. To Save the Children of Korea: the Cold War Origins of International Adoption. Stanford University Press, 2015, p.177.

#32: “File:57mm-AT-Gun-Korea-1950.JPG.” Wikimedia Commons, 26 Nov. 2006, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:57mm-AT-gun-Korea-1950.JPG.

#33: File:KoreanWar Recover Seoul.jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 10 Oct. 2015, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KoreanWar_recover_Seoul.jpg.

#34: File:Korea02WPC.Jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 18 Aug. 2006, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Korea02WPC.jpg.

#35: File:KoreanWar refugees2.Jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 10 Oct. 2005, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KoreanWar_refugees2.jpg.

#36: File:KoreachildrenWPC.jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 18 Aug. 2006, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KoreachildrenWPC.jpg.

#37: File:KoreanWarRefugeeWithBaby.jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 11 Mar. 2009, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KoreanWarRefugeeWithBaby.jpg.

#38: File:Little Rock Integration Protest.jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 22 June 2006, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Little_Rock_integration_protest.jpg.

#39: File:We Want White Tenants.jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 3 Oct. 2008, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:We_want_white_tenants.jpg.

#40: File:M39-AUV-Korea-19520919.Jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 22 Nov. 2006, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:M39-AUV-Korea-19520919.jpg.

#41: File:M39-AUV-Korea-19520919.Jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 22 Nov. 2006, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KoreanWar_refugees1.jpg.

#42: File:Card Stunt for Park Chung-Hee.jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 27 Feb. 2012, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Card_Stunt_for_Park_Chung-hee.jpg.

#43: File:5.16 Coup Park Chung-Hee.jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 25 May 2011, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:5.16_Coup_Park_Chung-hee.jpg.

#44: File:Main Conference Room of South Korean National Assembly Building.JPG. Wikimedia Commons, 25 Oct. 2013, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Main_conference_room_of_South_korean_national_assembly_building.JPG.

#45: File:National Assembly Building of the Republic of Korea.png, Wikimedia Commons, 8 Sept. 2014, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:National_Assembly_Building_of_the_Republic_of_Korea.png .

#46: SEUNGRI – ‘WHERE R U FROM (Feat. MINO)’ M/V, BIGBANG (빅뱅), 26 July 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2MtOeuCgh8.

#47: Korea Adoption Services (English), Republic of Korea – Ministry of Health and Welfare, http://www.kadoption.or.kr/en/index.jsp.

#48: Desai, Miraj U. “Racism Against Asians And Asian Americans Is Prejudice You Can Still Get Away With.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Sept. 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miraj-u-desai/racism-against-asians-and_b_8185388.html.

#49: Cho, Chung-un, et al. “Toddler’s Murder Reopens Old Wounds for Korean Adoptees.” The Korea Herald, 6 Apr. 2014, http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20140406000215.

#50: Yin, Stephanie. “In A Black-and-White America, Asians Struggle to Fit In.” Complex, Complex, 20 Oct. 2016, http://www.complex.com/life/2016/03/asian-america-race.

#51: Jones, Maggie. “Why a Generation of Adoptees Is Returning to South Korea.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Jan. 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/18/magazine/why-a-generation-of-adoptees-is-returning-to-south-korea.html.

#52: Hemmeke, Katelyn. “Beyond Infantilizing Portraits: South Korean Adoptees Speak Out.” Korea Exposé, 10 Apr. 2017, http://www.koreaexpose.com/korean-adoptees-resist-infantilization/.

#53: [MV] GFRIEND(여자친구) _ FINGERTIP, 1theK (원더케이), 5 Mar. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1n_1jrUEjU.

#54: 박재범 Jay Park – ‘V’ (Official MV) [ENG, CHN], Jay Park (박재범), 10 Sept. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxF7fmt3Ems.

#55: File:US Senate Chamber c1873.Jpg, Wikimedia Commons, 21 Apr. 2013, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Senate_Chamber_c1873.jpg.

#56: American FactFinder, U.S. Census Bureau, 5 Oct. 2010, http://web.archive.org/web/20141129082905/http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF.

#57: Outro Song: “Fill Me In” by Atwaters featuring Yeon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UW0iKqFMoxo Used with artist’s consent. The contents and views of this video may not necessarily be shared with the artist.

#58: McNulty, Frederick, and Megan Wallett. “In Person Interview.” 1 Oct. 2018.

#59: McNulty, Frederick, and Ethan Lonardelli. “In Person Interview.” 9 Oct. 2018. 

#60: McNulty, Frederick, and Ben H. “In Person Interview.” 3 Oct. 2018.

#61: McNulty, Frederick, and Seneca Schultz. “Email Interview.” 2 Oct. 2018.