Thirty years since the Seoul Olympics, South Korea is still tackling the legacy of overseas adoption

Jessica Walton - The Conversation

Jessica Walton, a South Korean adoptee and the author of this piece from the Conversation, uses the Winter Olympic games in South Korea as an opportunity to examine social issues in the country, particularly its legacy of intercountry adoption. Walton describes overseas adoption as an "ongoing issue" for South Korea, writing "Efforts to curtail the number of children sent overseas were discussed after South Korea was internationally shamed. But although adoptions dropped to 4,191 in 1989 and 2,962 in 1990, they continued in the thousands well into the early 2000s. South Korean children continue to be adopted overseas today."

One of the primary issues regarding intercountry adoption from South Korea, says Walton, is that it is driven by "entrenched social discrimination against single mothers in a society that makes it incredibly difficult for single mothers to keep their children – even with modest financial support." Walton highlights the work of Korean adult adoptees and other groups to advocate for the rights of Korean adoptees, as well as for single mothers in the country, including a revision to the Special Adoption Law of 2011 which would help to better connect adoptees with birth families and access their information.