This book investigates the experiences of South Koreans adopted into Western families and the complexity of what it means to ‘feel identity’ beyond what is written in official adoption files.
Korean Adoptees and Transnational Adoption is based on ethnographic fieldwork in South Korea and interviews with adult Korean adoptees from the United States, Australia, Canada, Switzerland and Sweden. It seeks to probe beneath the surface of what is ‘known’ and examines identity as an embodied process of making that which is ‘unknown’ into something that can be meaningfully grasped and felt. Furthermore, drawing on the author’s own experiences as a transnational, transracial Korean adoptee, this book analyses the racial and cultural negotiations of ‘whiteness’ and ‘Korean-ness’ in the lives of adoptees and the blurriness which results in-between.
Highlighting the role of memory and the body in the formation of identities, this book will be useful to students and scholars of Korean Studies, Ethnicity Studies and Anthropology as well as Asian culture and society more generally.
1. Emotional labour and transnational adoption
2. Becoming an adoptee
3. “I don’t see Korean”: Feeling ‘white’
4. Feeling a ‘Korean’ identity
5. Embodied memory, temporality and adoptee connections
Conclusion: Beyond binaries: Embodiment, adoption and emotional labour