Friday, November 02, 2007

Korea's Growing Multi-Racial and Ethnic Society

Good reading here.

Korea turning into a multiracial society

Date: October 25, 2007

Korea's growing foreign population, which topped the landmark 1
million mark in late August, is rapidly familiarizing Koreans with
the way of life in multiracial and multicultural societies.

Foreigners are increasingly ubiquitous in subways, restaurants,
neighborhood parks, streets and other areas nationwide. The 1 million
foreigners, including 720,000 residents, represent approximately 2
percent of the entire Korean population.

Reflecting the trend, foreign communities are springing up across
Korea, including a French community in Seoul's Bangbae-dong, "Little
Tokyo" in Seoul's Ichon-dong and the so-called Central Asian Village
in Seoul's Dongdaemun market area frequented by Korea's increasingly
large population of Central Asian and Russian immigrants.

In addition, a number of foreign districts have recently been
established in locations close to industrial complexes, such as Guro
in Seoul and Banwol in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, as more and more
foreigners, mostly from China and Southeast Asian countries, come to
Korea in search of their "Korean dream." Korean-Chinese workers are
concentrated in Guro's "Yanbian Street" and Nigerians can be spotted
on Itaewon's "Nigerian Street."

A Nepalese street has emerged in Seoul's Changshin-dong, while
Filipino workers regularly flock around a cathedral in Hyehwa-dong in
downtown Seoul on Sundays.

In Seoul's Central Asian town, signboards of restaurants, fried
chicken houses, cafes and video shops are all written in Russian.

Every weekend, the area draws citizens of Mongolia, Uzbekistan,
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan who come from their homes in Ansan, Guro,
Namyangju and other industrial suburbs to shop, eat, drink and catch
up on news from home. Mixed into the crowd are adventurous Koreans or
Western tourists looking to sample exotic Silk Road cuisines.

In the countryside, foreign brides, mostly from Vietnam, China and
the Philippines, have emerged as essential members of agricultural
households. According to government figures, one out of every four
men in rural areas is married to a foreign woman.

Reflecting the trend, an increasing number of provincial and county
governments are holding Korean language and cooking classes for
foreign wives.

The 1 million foreigners come from over 40 countries. Given Korea's
ethnically homogenous nature, such a multiracial society is a new and
enormous challenge to most Koreans.

According to data released by the Justice Ministry, the total number
of foreigners living in Korea, including illegal migrant workers,
reached 1,018,036 as of the end of September, with ethnic Chinese
accounting for 463,215, or 45.5 percent, followed by Americans
(115,204), Vietnamese (67,117), Filipinos (51,052), Thais (43,945),
Japanese (37,254), Mongolians (31,713) and Indonesians (25,969).

"The foreign population in Korea has grown by approximately 100,000
persons a year over the past decade. The expatriates here totaled
just 269,641 in 1995 and 491,324 in 2000," said a ministry official.

"Notably, about 65 percent of the foreigners live in the Seoul
metropolitan area. By 2010, the foreign community is expected to
swell to 1.4 million, accounting for 2.84 percent of the entire
Korean population," the official said.

The official also said the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae held the
second government meeting on Thursday (Oct. 25) to discuss new policy
measures to help remove inconveniences for foreigners in Korea and
improve the human rights and welfare of expatriate manual workers.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

New South Korea Family Registration Law Takes Effect 1/1/2008

I saw this in the Adoption Institute Newsletter. This is a huge step forward for Korean families, especially those headed by single women, and adoptees.


The South Korean Supreme Court has issued the final details of its new family registration law, which will replace the traditional patriarchal “hoju” system, according to a June 4 Korea Herald article by Shin Hae-in, “New Law Takes on Patriarchal Family System.” The new statute will take effect on Jan. 1, 2008, and will radically change how South Koreans have legally defined a family. The current system gives mothers fewer parental rights – which contributed, in part, to the problem of legal orphans and the availability of children for overseas adoptions. Under the new law, a child born outside of marriage can be registered under the mother’s family name and not only under the father’s. The changed system would also allow children to claim a stepfather’s surname without agreement from the biological father. The new registration system also secures equal legal rights for adopted persons, on condition that the biological parents agree. Under the current system, adopted children and stepchildren have no rights to inheritance or certain rituals to honor deceased parents.

See more here:

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Video Views from Adopted The Movie

I spent some time this afternoon viewing scenes from the upcoming movie, Adopted The Movie. It includes numerous clips with Korean adoptees that I urge you to watch and listen to with your heart wide open.

Our children are talking to us from the other side of the divide.

Check out these out at YouTube as well the official website.

Friday, May 25, 2007 says "No!" to California families

I saw this post on the Family Pride blog and thought it was newsworthy enough to share here. (Korea has always restricted its international adoption activity to traditional 2-parent families, although domestic law now allows singles to adopt.) I found the legal wrangling interesting. shows its true colors

My personal viewpoint? Kids need loving families, period. If 2 moms or 2 dads or single moms/dads are willing to do the classes and coursework, the homestudy, the various federal/state/county investigations and interviews - and pass - then why not open up the pool to more qualified families.

The fact that and its affiliate would prefer to pull out of California rather than comply with state statute is sad for prospective California parents, gay or straight, and kids waiting for nurturing, stable homes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Baby Naming & A Tol Celebration

I read this beautiful essay, Challah and Rice Cakes, in this month's issue of Interfaith Family. A familiy celebrates the first birthday of their Korean-born daughter and officially and formally welcomes her to the Jewish community.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Flickering Motherhood - Korean Birthmoms Online Community

I saw this multi-part essay mentioned on one of the Korean Adoptee Egroups. It's a bit of a dense read, very academic style, and it does have a strong feminist orientation, but it's worth the effort.

A Flickering MotherhoodKorean Birthmothers' Internet Community

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Thoughts Potpourri on Mother's Day 2007

As many of you may have noticed, I took a blogging breather for quite a few months. Longer than I had anticipated actually. With so much going on in my personal and professional life -- and in the larger world outside my doors -- I had much to say, yet I just didn't have the heart at the time to share.

With only 24 hours in a day, once you eliminate that 3-4 hours of restless sleep :=) , there's only so much time to get everything done. (And I'm still finding excuses not to dust my bedroom or clean the jacuzzi tub.)

In a multi-titled, multi-tasking world, sometimes you have to choose one to push forward.

I have spent the last few months concentrating more on my professional life. I'm a marketing consultant/strategist/copywriter by primary trade and I needed to spend more time pumping effort into the work that helps keep my family financially afloat. It's been good and with much time devoted to my business blog, The Copywriting Maven, I've been able to attract interest and the occasional new client.

But today is Mother's Day. My eldest child, the one born to me, made me a mother for the first time 15 years ago. She was born two days before Mother's Day - a tremendous gift. Now fully engaged in her teens, she is my "experimental model" and I succeed and fail and learn with her as my guide.

My youngest children, now 8 and 9, are the children, to use the familiar phrase, born in my heart. They get the benefit of a more experienced mother with every phase except when it comes to the unknowables of their hearts where moms and sometimes dad - birth and adoptive - reside. Where there are only questions and ponderables and specifics hard to find.

Together, they and I, muddle through.

At almost 10, my son seeks my hugs and kisses but not in public. One of my favorite teases is to kiss and hug him goodnight -- and then threaten to call one of his friends with, "Hi James, this is Spence's Mom, I'm giving him a humongous hug right now!" Spence tells me I'm his bestest mom, but I'm not the only mom. And he is more than right.

And I think of my children's first moms and of my own mom who died physically in 1999 but whose zesty spirit was stolen by depression years before.

What my youngest children and I share is the puzzlement and deep ache of "what if, what could have been." It is a sad and solitary pondering that I only allow myself to indulge in rarely. I much prefer the world of "what is and what could be."

Sometimes it's good just to shut up and listen.

I've been a reader of other voices in the adoption world these past several months. I've left the heavy lifting to others whose eloquence and bravery puts my comfortable glibness to shame. Just check out the blogroll at Third Mom and you'll see what I mean. Spend time with these articulate "first and subsequent" moms. Take a deep breath and read the full-spectrum of prose and poetry written by adoptees themselves.

Prepare to be shaken to the core and be ready to reconstitute yourself a little smarter and a lot more humble. You'll be a better parent, I promise you.

When the nurse first handed me my daughter, all cleaned up, swaddled tight and sporting a little striped cap, I thought, "Whoa, how am I going to do this?" Frankly, after 15 years and 3 kids later, I still wake up everyday with the same question.

But I do. Learning from others and trusting my instincts and learning not to be afraid of failing from time to time, I do muddle through. And when I don't? My children forgive me.

And so will yours.

Happy Mother's Day to us all today.