Monthly Archives: January 2009

Struggle for Identity: Issues in Transracial Adoption

New favorite things

cafe1

… a new cafe near my home.

cafe3

and beautiful music — new to me.

Tangsooyook

I should not have eaten the deep-fat fried pork strips. Ow.

National Stalking Awareness Month

stalking
January is National Stalking Awareness Month — which I had actually no idea about until just now since it was started the year that I left the U.S.! But I’m happy to see that this has been implemented, and I hope that this kind of awareness will extend internationally.

I was stalked when I was 18-19 years old in 1990-1991. At that time there was no awareness about stalking and no laws against it in Minnesota.

You can click here to find out more about stalking.

I’ve been asked many times if the stalking that I wrote about in Language of Blood was real. Yes, it was. I have never revealed the name of the perpetrator publicly before. Maybe that’s because I have harbored some shame about the stalking, thinking it was in a way my fault. I think I have also harbored some ill feelings about talking more about it because I think to say you are a “crime victim” is using the word “victim,” which I guess among certain circles is not attractive, because the thinking seems to be that you shouldn’t be a “victim” with victim mentality, but a “survivor.” Also, the reaction I tend to get from people a lot of the time is that they just don’t believe me (this was my experience in the U.S.) or in Korea, if I talk about stalking, they think it’s funny or romantic.

But I am much heartened to see that there is now such a thing as National Stalking Awareness Month. So, please believe me. It’s true. This “woman” in this paragraph is me, and you can click here to see the rest of this document online.

In 1991, M discharged a firearm after being discovered sitting in a car in front of the home of a woman he had harassed and stalked. A rope and duct tape were found in the car, and M admitted during a subsequent mental health examination that he broke into the woman’s home with a handgun intending to kidnap, rape, and kill her.

I have had a lot of PTSD symptoms since the stalking, some in the form of existential crisis, but mostly in the form of recurrent nightmares. Living in Korea has helped a lot with that. I would say I haven’t had the nightmare for about a year. But I guess that does mean that I had the nightmare for 17 years and had to live in a “foreign” country for 3 years before it stopped.

I just want to express my gratitude that on a large scale people are starting to wake up to the reality of this kind of violence. Maybe one day people will wake up about the kind of violence in the system of adoption that exists today, too.

I have been thinking about what I am going to actually accomplish on my book tour this coming fall, since reading from more own work actually bores me to death. Since Fugitive Visions is a lot about the stalking, and of course adoption and the U.S. military, etc. maybe I should just riff on these kinds of violence experienced on the personal level and how they are tied to violence on a structural level, and how writing can play a role in healing and erasing shame for the victim, and also bringing an awareness to society about the difference between these perception and reality of these acts — which some people perceive as funny, romantic, charitable or God’s will — but are in reality much different when you take a closer look at the larger structural violence at work or listen to the victims, as we are doing through TRACK.

I hope that at the end of my life, I will be able to look back at the rough start believe that there was some meaning and purpose to all that.

Ex-Prostitutes Say South Korea and U.S. Enabled Sex Trade Near Bases

It’s about time someone put 1 + 1 + 1 together! Great article that shows how convoluted international adoption really is, especially regarding the relationship between the US and ROK. Layers and layers of ownership and public forces in people’s private lives.

The New York Times
January 8, 2009
By CHOE SANG-HUN

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has railed for years against the Japanese government’s waffling over how much responsibility it bears for one of the ugliest chapters in its wartime history: the enslavement of women from Korea and elsewhere to work in brothels serving Japan’s imperial army.

Now, a group of former prostitutes in South Korea have accused some of their country’s former leaders of a different kind of abuse: encouraging them to have sex with the American soldiers …

“Our government was one big pimp for the U.S. military,” one of the women, Kim Ae-ran, 58, said in a recent interview.

Jeon, 71, who agreed to talk only if she was identified by just her surname, said she was an 18-year-old war orphan in 1956 when hunger drove her to Dongduchon, a camp town near the border with North Korea. She had a son in the 1960s, but she became convinced that he would have a better future in the United States and gave him up for adoption when he was 13.

“The more I think about my life, the more I think women like me were the biggest sacrifice for my country’s alliance with the Americans,” she said. “Looking back, I think my body was not mine, but the government’s and the U.S. military’s.”

Looking for Seo Bok-nam

Many amazing things happened this weekend, but first things first:

I was riding the train back from Yeosu to Seoul, and I randomly started talking to this old guy in the cafe car. He said that his friend is looking for his son who was sent for adoption to the U.S. The son was sent 35-38 years ago and is probably about 38 years old now. The friend’s son’s name is 서복남. Romanized that would look like Seo, Suh, or So / Bok or Pok / Nam. Suh Bok-nam, Seo Pok Nam or a combination of that.

I have his phone number and name so if you think you are that person whose dad is looking for you, drop me a line at jjtrenkaATgmail.com and we can get in contact with your dad’s friend. I have posted this info also on K@W and will also direct him to GOAL. He said he shares an email account with his son and will have his son send me a follow-up email.

This is not much information to go on, as even our names were changed, and we know that the agencies even lied to the Korean parents when they told them what country their children were going to, but nonetheless I believe in miracles and I hope that we will find you, Seo Bok-nam. Obviously your father never stopped thinking about you.