Julianna Gonska, 24, returned to South Korea a few months ago to take part in a Korean government scholarship program for foreign students. But while Gonska, an American citizen who hasn't lived in Korea since she was five months old, qualifies for the program as a foreigner, being a Korean adoptee on the program has created complications. Despite being a legal citizen of the U.S., she lacks a naturalization document. As you'll hear, that piece of paper currently threatens everything she's worked so hard to achieve so far.
Korean-American Jonathan DeBlois, 34, opens up about his life after returning to South Korea to live for the past 12 years. Through that experience, DeBlois has gleaned a lot of insight from Korean work culture and society in general, and about his identity as an adopted Korean. Living between two worlds, DeBlois ultimately finds where he fits in, and it isn't a place.
Jonathan Park Oyen, 52, is a retired US Army soldier who now works for the federal government in a similar position he held while in the military. He returned to Korea while in the military, got married to a Korean woman he met while here and has since lived in Korea for about 17 years, on and off, since his adoption as a four-year old boy. Oyen talks about his feelings about his adoption, about military life and of being found by his Korean mother. He also shares what it's been like as a father and how his relationships with his own parents influence his own parenting style.
Korean adoptee activist Kim Stoker,44, sits down to talk with us about moving back to Korea and staying for nearly two decades. She'll also share her thoughts on identity and of how she has forged one for herself here in Korea that resists the pressure of assimilation and acknowledges the many complex experiences that make up an adopted person's life. Stoker was also one of the early members of ASK, or Adoptee Solidarity Korea, one of the first Korea-based advocacy groups by and for adoptees.
Multiracial Korean adoptee Kim Craig, 49, talks to us about her adoption experience, which included childhood abuse. Despite being adopted at the age of five to the United States, she was never given citizenship. As a legal permanent resident, she was able to go about her life like any American, except for a few exceptions. Three years ago, her life drastically changed when she lost her that identification card while on a return visit to Korea for the first time since her adoption. She talks about having to survive in a country where she doesn't speak the language or fit in anymore. Her story is an example of the insecurities and struggle many adoptees without citizenship face, and how easily their lives can drastically change.
Mark Wilson, 31, is a Korean-American adoptee who has lived in Korea for the past six years. Wilson grew up as a typical suburban kid but struggled with feelings of fitting in and dealing with racism on his own in his almost all white town. At college, he befriended some Korean foreign exchange students and started to feel accepted as an ethnic Korean by his new friends. He also spent time as a youth counselor at an adoptee camp by Holt International. Those experiences convinced him to return to and discover Korean for himself. Wilson shares some humorous and touching stories about his life here.
Six years ago, Korean adoptee Hana Crisp, 32, of Melbourne, Australia, found her birth family, including a biological half-brother Subin Kim, 29. Both agreed to be interviewed about their relationship and the reunion process over time. In separate interviews, the biological half-siblings provide a rare glimpse of what connecting and reestablishing family bonds is like after a lifetime apart, and within the context of relinquishment.
Brian Park, 25, is a Korean-American adoptee and is gay. He's been living in Korea since 2014 when he met his birth family. Park is used to feeling different - first growing up in remote Iowa as one of only a few Asian faces, and later as he came to terms with his sexuality in Arizona, among new friends and at a new school. We'll hear about his path to self-acceptance and and how being in Korea has meant having to negotiate a different set of societal norms, and why he does.
Miranda Kerkhove, 41, is a Korean adoptee from The Netherlands. A translator by trade, Kerkhove's interest in her ethnic roots began linguistically and continues today through her devotion to learning the Korean language. Despite moving back to her birth country, Kerkhove describes situations that make her feel a sense of duality, of uneasiness and comfort.
Megan Arnesen, 30, of Plymouth, Minnesota spent the summer in Daejeon, Korea on an English teaching internship. She's a Korean-American adoptee who had already lived in Korea, the land of her birth, previously. This time, Arnesen returned as a new bride and reflected about her reunion with her birth family, being raised in a nearly all-white community in the Midwest and about her feelings about being adopted.
Listen as Madeline Yochum, 25 and Andrew Blad, 28 talk to us about their experiences growing up in North America and what led them to move to Korea. They're also a couple and share their experiences with dating other adoptees and what living in Korea means to them.
Alicia Soon, 33, is a Korean-American adoptee living in Seoul. She talks about her childhood growing up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, the strained relationship between herself and her adoptive parents, and ultimately her attempt to make sense of the world around her and the forces that brought her into it.