Some somewhat flimsy and not so academic reflections on the adopted Koreans now when this years Gathering in Seoul with 500 adoptees is over:
The adopted Korean experience is a one generation experience, and as such it is a ”now or never” community and a ”doomed” group which cannot reproduce itself in any way, and it will all be over well before the year of 2100.
The adopted Koreans will in the end just become a footnote and a parenthesis in both Korean and Western history and they symbolize and represent a transitional postcolonial moment in global history when the relationship between the Western and the non-Western world was still characterized by more classical imperial ideologies and racial hierarchies.
The adopted Koreans are not the perfect and flexible cosmopolitan, hybrid, multicultural, antiracist, neoliberal, postnational, postracial and postbiological bridges, brokers, diaspora subjects and model citizens which both South Korea and the Western receiving states want them to be as well as many researchers and academics.
The adopted Korean identity, community and movement only exist momentarily when adoptees meet and interact with each other in the physical world for one or two hours, sometimes for a whole day or for a 4-5 days’ conference: Only 1-2 percent of an adoptee’s life is spent within that community while 98-99 percent of an adoptee’s life is spent in the white Western world and this only concerns those who are active within the movement. The vast majority of the 200,000 adopted Koreans will never experience the adopted Korean identity and community at all before they pass away. And most adopted Koreans seek out each other and join the adopted Korean community and movement to try to cure their profound genetic and racial loneliness and demographic isolation from each other.
The vast majority of all adopted Koreans will never visit Korea before they die or take part in the adopted Korean community and movement, only a minority will ever search and only a small group will ever reunite with their Korean parents and families. And for many adoptees who visit, are and live in Korea it is almost like wearing an invisibility cloak.
The adopted Koreans will continue to live without ”memories” and die as ”amnesiacs” – it is their fate to have been ”emptied out”, to be deprived and denied of their history and to never fully be able to remember, regain, (re)imagine, (re)create, (re)tell or (re)write it again. Most adopted Koreans have not just forgotten their names and know nothing about Korea – they have even forgotten how they look like.
And finally one of my favorite citations by an adopted Korean from Canada and which describes and sums up the transracial experience and subjectivity and the concept and state of transraciality which the adoptees will always be ”trapped into”:
”My language and my culture and my life reference are Canadian or North American but my experience is not so. I always feel like I’m wearing a Halloween costume that I can never take off. I’m just stuck with it. The zipper is broken … [The mask] is melted onto my face so yeah it’s just really, it’s hard like particularly when there’s racism involved … because I don’t associate or identify myself with the group of people that I’m being discriminated because of or against or whatever because I feel white.”