Korean Adoptee Returns to Birth Country as Ice Hockey Player

      August 26, 2014 08:13

      Bree Doyle

      Bree Doyle is a 30-year-old Canadian national, but her looks including her black hair and dark brown single-lid eyes are suggestive of her Korean origin. All she knows about her roots is that she was adopted by a Canadian doctor and nurse couple when she was four months old through an agency in Seoul.

      Doyle came to Korea two weeks ago, and has been training with the Ice Avengers in the Women's Ice Hockey Summer League in Korea. Her dream is to represent Korea in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province.

      She was introduced to ice hockey at the age of five thanks to her older brother. She mainly played as a goalie in youth leagues in Canada and the U.S., and played in 13 games over two years with Niagara University. In order to get more playing time, she transferred to the State University of New York at Plattsburgh where she played 70 games between 2004 and 2007. She let up an average 1.26 goals per game with a .936 save percentage.

      Doyle first came to Korea in May this year, for the first time since she was adopted, to find answers about her long-forgotten birth parents. It was then that she first learned that she was born in Gangwon Province, the host of the Winter Olympics, not Seoul. Doyle did not have much luck in finding out more about her biological parents, but her interest in Korea grew after she went back to the U.S.

      "I was also curious about ice hockey in Korea, too," Doyle said.

      Doyle soon found the Korean women's national ice hockey team on Facebook, and got in touch with the Korean ice hockey association right away.

      "We sent her a reply saying a tryout is the first step, and she immediately got back to us saying she will," the association said. "She took time off from ice hockey, so she had gained some weight and lost some speed, but her sense of hockey and skating skills were superb. We think she is going to be a great addition to our defensive squad, which needs a lot of work."

      Because she passed the tryout and joined the country's only women's league, Doyle had to prolong her stay in Korea. She applied for restoration of her Korean citizenship at the Ministry of Justice. Those who were born in Korea but adopted by foreign parents become eligible to play for the national team if they play in a domestic league for one year after the restoration of citizenship.

      "It's been only two weeks since I came to Korea but everything feels natural and familiar," Doyle said, "I will work very hard and I hope my birth parents will recognize me on the national team."

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