Some days ago I visited Ihwajang House and Changdeok Palace in Seoul where Korea’s first president Syngman Rhee and last crown prince Yi Gu lived (and where also Korea’s last emperor Sunjong died in 1926) and realized that both where married to white women and both where adoptive parents although it is often said that Koreans ”hate” interracial marriages (and mixed children) as well as non-biological adoptions (and adopted children).
President Syngman Rhee was married to Francesca Donner who was born in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and who passed away in 1992, and they adopted two sons – one of whom named Kang-sok committed suicide at the presidential residence the Blue House after having killed his birth father the former National Assembly speaker Yi Ki-bung and his birth mother Maria Park as well as his birth brother Yi Kang-wook when his adoptive father was ”dethroned” in the April 19 Revolution of 1960 while the other adopted son named In-soo is still alive.
The imperial Yi dynasty’s last crown prince Yi Gu, who passed away as late as 2005 and who was the grandson of emperor Kojong, was married to the Ukrainian-American Julia Mullock who also lived in Changdeok Palace and who is still alive and lives in Seoul, and together they adopted a daughter from Korea when they were living in the US who was named Eugenia Unsuk and who is still alive as one of the first overseas adopted Koreans. Prince Yi Gu’s mother was a Japanese princess and is known in Korea as Yi Bangja – in 1927 she visited Stockholm and the Swedish royal family Bernadotte together with her husband crown prince Yi Un as part of a Japanese propaganda tour in Europe and a dinner at the royal palace of Drottningholm as well as at Grand Hotel was arranged for the couple and their entourage.
Amazingly enough both president Rhee and crown prince Yi where married to white women and were adoptive parents at the same time at the end of the 1950s. And even more fascinating (for an adoptee) is perhaps the fact that Yi Won, one of the pretenders to the (not anymore existing) Korean throne (there are several pretenders nowadays), is the (posthumously) adopted son of Yi Gu. It is highly probable that no other non-Western and postcolonial country has had a president with a white spouse and being an adoptive parent as well as a (former or present) ”royal highness” with a white spouse and being an adoptive parent.
And last but not least – several of the Korean presidents’ and their families as well as the Korean imperial family (as well as the Korean elite families in general) have been and are plagued with tragic suicides and murders, cases of mental illnesses, aggressive family conflicts, infertile marriages, multiple divorces, and political collaboration and economic corruption issues.