28 June 2022

As many of you know: Chile has investigated their overseas adoption “program”. According to the Chilean investigation about 25 per cent of all their adoptions were illegal or unethical. The Chilean investigation sparked the current Swedish investigation of intercountry adoptions to Sweden.

So why do we have so much knowledge about Chilean adoptions but not the Korean ones? The answer is simple: Korea has not actually researched their adoption program so far. Just like Chile, Korea did have a truth and reconciliation investigation but unlike in Chile, the Korean one never included the adoption program.

An investigation of the Korean adoptions just started

Earlier in 2022, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHR) announced a research grant of 50 million won (approx. €/$30 000) for investigation of human rights violations carried out in relation to overseas adoption.

The Korean research team

The team is led by Professor Noh Hye Ryeon, known as Helen Noh by many people, at Soongsil University. The other research members are Professor Lee Tae In, Dr. Kim Jaemin, Dr. Shin Pihlsik (secretary general of KoRoot), lawyer So Rami (Gonggam Lawyers) and the doctoral candidates Han Boon Young (adopted to Denmark and co-founder of TRACK) and Jeon Se Hee.

The NGO KoRoot is also highly involved in the research, sharing their great knowledge about the Korean adoption program.

The focus of the research is to study how the adoption agencies in Korea and adoptive countries and the Korean government protected or violated human rights in the process of intercountry adoption.

Why is this happening now?

Knowledge about human right violations in relation to overseas adoptions from Korea has been known for decades. So why does the Korean government announce a grant now? SKAN does not know for sure but KoRoot and their allies (professors, researchers and lawyers) carried out a project called ‘A pilot research project to investigate human rights violations in the overseas’. That might be one of the reasons to this research grant.

Does this mean that the Korean government will investigate the adoptions?

As far as SKAN knows there is no political decision made to carry out a larger investigation of the Korean overseas adoptions. However, like the research team, KoRoot and the other advisory organisations that is our hope that this project will lead to such a decision.

SKAN is a part of both the Swedish and Korean investigation

One of the SKAN member was appointed to be in the reference group connected to the Swedish investigation. SKAN as an organisation is also connected to the Korean investigation as an advisory organisation. SKAN hopes that we will be able to help both the investigation teams with our knowledge.

The Swedish investigation will focus on China, Chile, Colombia, Korea and Sri Lanka. The investigators’ plan is to visit all these countries except from China to gather information about each country’s adoption program. SKAN is working on connecting the Swedish investigators and the Korean research team