Inger-Tone (58) asks King Harald to withdraw the merit medal

14 September 2023


Inger-Tone Ueland Shin did not have too much hope when she wrote a letter to the royal house. Now the 58-year-old has been invited to an audience with King Harald.

Shin was thirteen when she was brought to Norway. Those who would become her adoptive parents themselves came to South Korea in 1978 to take her home.

The only problem was that the couple from Rogaland were not approved as adoptive parents. In fact, the then King Olav had refused in the cabinet that the couple would be allowed to become adoptive parents after they submitted a complaint.

Despite the fact that they were not allowed, the couple brought the 13-year-old girl from South Korea.

Both the municipality, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Justice found out about the illegal adoption. However, the couple were never prosecuted. Instead, they were eventually approved as adoptive parents. None of them are alive today.

As an adult, Shin accused his adoptive father of sexual abuse over several years. The case was closed and was dropped by the police. Shin nevertheless received victim compensation, which requires a "clear preponderance of probability" that what she accused her adoptive father of happened.

She has previously told the whole story about her adoption to Stavanger Aftenblad .

The king gave honors to adoption work

It was the South Korean organization Holt that got Shin adopted to Norway.

Their chairman for many years, Molly Holt, was appointed by King Harald as a Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit in 2008. She is not alive today.

At the appointment, Norwegian ambassador Didrik Tønseth said that he had "never met someone who is as dedicated to helping other people as Holt", according to The Korea Times .

VG revealed earlier this year how the organization Holt has systematically and deliberately used documents with incorrect information to get the adoptions carried out.

Holt International Children's Services has not answered VG's questions in this case. Previously, they confirmed to VG that they had omitted the names of single mothers in the adoption papers, but denied that they had provided incorrect information.

- Would never complain about the king!

The fact that the chairman of the organization that got her adopted to Norway has received the Order of Merit was among the things Shin raised in a letter to the royal house. In addition, she wrote about her own adoption.

- I see how loving they are to each other in that family, I'm not used to that at all from the family where I grew up. I see that it comes naturally to the royals to show care, says Shin about why she wrote the letter.

She also specifies that there was no complaint she wrote.

- I would never complain about the king!

In the letter, Shin asked for an audience with the king to tell his story.

She did not have too high hopes, but on 29 August she received a surprising answer from the court:

The king will receive her at the castle in September.

- I was alone at home when I got the message. My heart was pounding then, it's not usual for me to do this. I was very happy, says Shin.

- I want to ask if he wants to take that medal from Molly Holt. That's what I wrote in the letter. So now he probably wants to know more about it, she continues.

- No justification is given

It is possible for the king to withdraw orders and honors "due to unworthy circumstances".

VG has asked the court whether it is relevant in this case.

- On a general basis, we do not comment on the proceedings in matters of order and medals. There is also no reason given if an order or medal appointment is deleted, writes communications adviser Sara Svanemyr at the Royal Court in an e-mail.