South Korea investigates 237 additional foreign adoptions suspected of having laundered origins

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said Thursday it will investigate another 237 cases of South Korean adoptees who suspect their family origins were manipulated to facilitate their adoptions from Europe and in the United States.

The new cases in the commission’s expanded investigation into South Korea’s overseas adoption boom involve adoptees in 11 countries, including the United States, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, who have were adopted from 1960 to 1990. More than 370 adoptees from Europe, North America and Australia filed applications last year demanding that their cases be reviewed.

When the commission said it would investigate the first 34 cases in December, it said the records of many adoptees sent to the West had clearly been manipulated and falsely portrayed them as orphans or falsified their identities by borrowing contact details. from a third person.

The commission said most applicants say their adoptions were based on falsified records that whitewashed their status or origin to ensure their adoptability and expedite custody transfers across borders. Some claimants have asked the commission to investigate abuse they say they suffered in South Korean orphanages or in the care of their foreign adoptive parents.

The commission’s potential findings could allow adoptees to file lawsuits against agencies or the government, which would otherwise be difficult because South Korean civil courts place the entire burden of proof on plaintiffs, who often lack information and resources.

Of the 271 cases accepted by the commission so far, 141 are of Danish adoptees, including members of the Danish Korean rights group co-led by adoptee activist Peter Møller, who submitted the initial 51 applications in August of Last year. Other cases accepted by the commission include those of 28 American adoptees and 21 Swedish adoptees, officials said.

The commission, which considers applications in the order in which they were submitted, should also investigate the remaining 101 cases, officials said.

About 200,000 South Koreans, mostly girls, have been adopted into the West over the past six decades, creating what is thought to be the largest diaspora of adoptees in the world.

Most were placed with white relatives in the United States and Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. South Korea was then ruled by a succession of military dictatorships, which focused on economic growth and saw in adoptions a tool to reduce the number of mouths to feed, erase the “social problem” of single mothers and deepen ties with the democratic West.

Military governments introduced special laws to promote overseas adoptions that, in practice, allowed adoption agencies to circumvent good child abandonment practices as they sent thousands of children in the West year after year at the height of adoptions.

Most adoptees were registered by agencies as orphans found abandoned on the streets, although they often had parents who could be easily identified or traced. This practice often makes their roots difficult or impossible to trace.

It wasn’t until 2013 that the South Korean government required foreign adoptions to go through family courts, ending a decades-long policy that allowed agencies to dictate child abandonments and transfers. guard internationals.

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