Domestic adoption of children promoted in SKorea

23 February 2010

Domestic adoption of children promoted in SKorea

By Channel NewsAsia's Korea Bureau Chief Lim Yun Suk | Posted: 23 February 2010 1159 hrs


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SEOUL: For several years now, the South Korean government has been trying to reduce the number of Korean children sent overseas for adoption. It prefers the children to be adopted in Korea, as a way to stem the country's falling birth rate.

South Korea has lost over 160,000 of its children to other countries, since the Korean War ended in the 1950s. Traditionally, Koreans shun adoption as there is a strong emphasis on bloodlines.

And so, in order to get abandoned children adopted in their home country, famous Korean stars have been photographed with babies.

Jung Il Woo, an actor, said: "To be honest, this was my first shoot with a baby. And so I was very nervous. During the shoot, the baby even peed on my clothes. But I had great time and they remain as great memories.

"I hope by me taking part in this shoot, this baby can meet a good family."

Park Ye Jin, an actress, said: "I'm sure there are people who love these babies. They don't have parents to love them. I hope they can find parents quickly and grow up receiving love from them."

The photographer, Cho Sye Hyun, started the shoot about seven years ago.

He said: "I started this campaign because I believe these children need a family quickly. These children should find a new family and receive love while growing up.

"And through this event, I hope it can reduce the resistance that many Koreans still have about adoption, and that we can increase domestic adoption."

He said that about 90 per cent of the children that he has taken photos of have found new families at home and abroad.

Despite actions by the South Korean government to promote domestic adoptions, more than 1,000 babies have been sent abroad for adoption every year for the last two years - mostly to the United States. And about 90 per cent of these babies were from single mothers.

With so many abandoned babies coming from unwed mothers, some people said the government is not really solving the problem by promoting adoption. Instead, they said the government should help single mothers bring up their children, so they won't be abandoned in the first place.

More South Koreans have started to adopt children, but it is a topic that is still not discussed openly in public.

- CNA/sc