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Ends of Adoption Symposium

This interdisciplinary symposium on transnational Korean adoption was co-organized by Profs. Kyung Hyun Kim (East Asian Languages and Literatures), James Kyung-Jin Lee (English and Asian American Studies), and Eleana Kim (Anthropology), with partial funding from the Center for Critical Korean Studies at UCI.

Evnet Date: May 13, 2017

This interdisciplinary symposium on transnational Korean adoption was co-organized by Profs. Kyung Hyun Kim (East Asian Languages and Literatures), James Kyung-Jin Lee (English and Asian American Studies), and Eleana Kim (Anthropology), with partial funding from the Center for Critical Korean Studies at UCI.

Transnational Korean adoptions have been ongoing since the end of the Korean War in 1953, but since its peak in the 1980s, the numbers of children being adopted overseas have tapered off dramatically, making the “end” of the world’s longest-running and largest adoption program more imaginable than ever before. At this juncture, and with the moral logics and the raison d’être of transnational adoption coming under increasing scholarly and ethical scrutiny in South Korea and Western receiving nations, this symposium reconsidered the multiple “ends” of Korean adoption in terms of adoption’s imagined outcomes for children, its motivating premises of humanitarianism and gendered family norms, and also its potential conclusion as a social welfare solution. The symposium began with a keynote address by Rev. Kim Do-hyun, Ph.D., the director of KoRoot, a guesthouse for Korean adoptees in Seoul, and a long time activist and advocate for adoptees and birthmothers in South Korea. The keynote was followed by three panels, and ended with a screening and panel discussion of the documentary film, Resilience.