Korea Criticized for 'Exporting' Orphans

      August 28, 2007 10:38

      A Korean-born adoptee smashes a watermelon at an event to teach Taekwondo to Korean-born adoptees from foreign countries at Olympic Park on July 18. Fourteen adoptees from the U.S., Norway, Belgium and France attended the event at the invitation of Holt International Children's Services.

      National Public Radio, a U.S. noncommercial broadcaster, made a roundabout criticism of Korea's "exports of orphans" in its program "All Things Considered" on Saturday.

      Some 600 Korean-born adoptees recently visited their mother country for one week under the sponsorship of the International Korean Adoptees Association. Some of the adoptees staged a demonstration in downtown Seoul holding placards reading, "Korean babies are not for export" and "Stop sending Korean babies overseas."

      Kim Stoker, a representative of Adoptee Solidarity Korea, told NPR, "(Korea) has the financial means to take care of its citizens, and it's just choosing not to do it." According to NPR, ASK asserts that unwed Korean women are pressured to giving up babies and told they are unfit to be a parent. Stoker was adopted overseas in 1972.

      Sandra McLauglin, who was adopted by an American family and lives in Pittsburgh said, "The situation for unwed Korean mothers today is similar to the way it was in America back in the 1950s. Women are often stigmatized and forced to live in shelters." But, she added, "adoption should remain an option" before the views are changed.

      According to NPR, the Korean government encourages inter-Korean adoption but now some 19,000 children live in orphanages. Korea sends the world's fourth largest number of babies abroad. Some 1,376 Korean babies were adopted to the U.S. last year. China took first place with 6,493 babies sent to the U.S., followed by Guatemala with 4,135 and Russia with 3,706.

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