Adoptee reunites with family 42 years after going missing at bus terminal

16 March 2023

A 46-year-old man who went missing at a bus terminal in Suwon, Gyeonggi, more than 40 years ago before being adopted by a German couple reunited with his biological family on Thursday.

Local authorities said it was the third time they linked a missing Korean child who was adopted overseas during the 1970s and ‘80s with their birth family through a program jointly run by the Korean National Police Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Center for the Rights of the Child.

The latest adoptee who benefitted from the program was identified only as Jeong, the Korean surname he was given by his birth parents.

Police said he refused to reveal his German name to the press.

He was four years old when his parents lost him at the Suwon Bus Terminal in January 1981.

According to police, Jeong’s parents tried to find him but failed. The child was immediately sent to a local orphanage, and just five months later, got on a plane to Germany when a couple there said they were willing to take him in.

Jeong grew up in Germany and became a therapist, specializing in Buddhist psychology.

When Jeong turned 32 years old in 2009, he visited Korea for the first time since he left the country to look for his parents. He went to Suwon Seobu Police Precinct and submitted his DNA sample to find a match, but there was none, and he had to go back to Germany empty-handed.

Jeong visited Korea several times after that for work and reached out to the police to ask about progress, but was repeatedly told there wasn't any.

That is, until last year.

In June 2022, Jeong’s birth mother visited Yeoju Police Precinct in Gyeonggi to submit her DNA sample, saying she wanted to find her missing son.

The National Forensic Service informed the police that the two samples could be a match, but said more samples were needed for closer analysis.

Through the joint program it had with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, police delivered a DNA collection kit to the Korean Embassy in Berlin last November. The embassy contacted Jeong and asked him to drop by to submit another sample, which was then handed over to the National Forensic Service through a diplomatic pouch.

In January, Korean forensic officials concluded the two were biologically related.

On Thursday, Jeong finally reunited with his 67-year-old mother and 48-year-old older brother at a restaurant run by the mother in Yeoju.