Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dual Citizenship? Yes, please!

Saw on the GOAL Facebook page that adoptees will now be granted dual citizenship in Korea effective January 1, 2011! GOAL has been working on this for quite awhile... basically recognizing that even though we were sent abroad as children, we are STILL Korean citizens. I'm mostly just pumped about getting a second passport. :)

Here's a note from Dae-won Kim, from the GOAL Board of Directors:

The Nationality Law Revision was passed on 2010/04/21 by the Korean National Assembly. It will give Korean adoptees the right to re-gain their Korean nationality in addition to the adoptive nationality. The revised law will go into effect as per 1st January 2011.

After the launch in fall 2007 this campaign comes to a successful end by having the law revision passed. G.O.A.'L is grateful to all those who participated from the very beginning and supported this campaign by joining our worldwide signature collection, by donating money or by participating in our surveys and by giving important advice.

G.O.A.'L would like to especially thank Professor Lee Chul-Woo from Yonsei University who served as a special advisor to our campaign. Myriam Cransac who spent much of her time designing the entire campaign, the Ministry of Justice who always supported our cause and to all the congressmen who approved this bill.

Now that our campaign was successfully ended, much work remains to be done. We still need to negotiate with the government the problem with Military Service that may affect around 20% of the Korean adoptee community. We will also discuss all regulations and procedures with the Ministry of Justice in order to get all the answers before the law goes into effect. We are certain many among you will have questions. Please keep following the information either on our G.O.A.'L Facebook group or also on our homepage at

Giving Korean adoptees dual citizenship is a fundamental step in the improvement of adoptee rights. This step will certainly have an global impact on international adoptees from other countries.

What started as just a dream has finally materialized!

G.O.A.'L will certainly continue to report on the development on dual citizenship and adoptee rights. If you'd like to contribute to our cause, please visit our homepage.

In case you have questions please contact our office.

Best regards

Dae-won Wenger
Board of Directors

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dinner with Birth Mother

Our last night in Seoul, I got to go to my Birth Mother's brother's house for a home cooked meal. Not that I should complain, but one of the pitfalls of not having a woman in the picture up until now is that I haven't gotten very many home-cooked Korean meals. And as good as restaurants are, it's really true that meals prepared at home are miles better.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this dinner -- her younger brother (who came to the original meeting) called me and invited me to his home for dinner. He actually lives off the Seoul National University of Education subway stop, which isn't too far from where we used to live and work. I was actually kind of nervous because SangKwun wasn't coming with me this time around... but there was really nothing to worry about.

When we arrived at the apartment, my Birth Mother came running over and gave me a huge hug. We then sat down to an amazing dinner. And my birth mother watched over me the entire time... making sure my bowl was full and that I was eating enough. Very sweet, but kind of awkward at the same time.

Here we are again. This pic is one of my favorites.


I was able to get a few more details out of my birth mother. She said she lives in Gwanak-gu, which is EXACTLY where Mark and my first apartment was. How weird is that? She also said I was born in that area. Finally, I don't know for sure, but I really don't think she's married. She has never mentioned a husband or any other children... but who knows. Kind of a weird thing to ask about.

She HAS mentioned that she'd like to meet my Birth Father and kind of motioned that she still cares about him. Maybe I'm going way too fairy tale with this one, but I have dreams of the two of them reuniting and rekindling a long lost love... all because of their overseas adopted daughter re-entering their lives. :) A long, long, long shot, but a girl can dream, right?

Oh, and did I mention that I have more cousins??? My uncle has two little boys -- aged 10 and 12. It was SO much fun meeting them because they can speak English! They studied at two hagwons (private academies like what Mark and I taught at): SLP and now they're at CDI. They seemed to understand almost everything we said, but were a bit hesitant to speak. They have English names, but for the life of me, I can't remember them.

Here's a pic of the 3 cousins (and Mark) together. See any resemblance?


It was just hilarious to see them in action though because they played the Wii for hours -- and the older one was constantly on his cell phone with his friends. Not too different from American kids, huh?

Here's Mark playing with the boys. He claims he beat the younger one... but with Mark you never know...


Anyway, this was the perfect way to end our year in Korea. When I embarked on this journey, I would've never imagined I'd be spending my last evening with my Birth Mother, uncle, aunt, and cousins. But this night reaffirmed that I'm making a good decision to go back and learn some Korean. And my family was so excited for the summer -- talking about going to Jeju, baseball games, and more -- I can't wait!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mountain hiking

A popular past time in Korea is hiking mountains. It was something we always said we wanted to do, but never actually got around to doing. So while we weren't working, we spent a couple days visiting some of the beautiful mountains in Seoul.

Some of our friends hiked Bukhansan and said it was cool, so that was our first mountain. This one is special since it's patrolled by the Korean army. It overlooks the President's Palace. There was an assassination attempt by a North Korean, so you have to show your passport to gain access. Additionally, pictures aren't really allowed at certain points -- as I learned from a Korean soldier yelling at me.

The hike is pretty well paved and reminded me of a fortress. Also, there were a TON of stairs... especially on the way down.

Bukhansan stairs

Here's a shot of the mountain and where we were hiking.

Bukhansan summit

And here's the illegal pic I snapped before I got yelled at by the soldier. I wanted to show the barbed wire along the perimeter, but I don't think you can see it very well.

Bukhansan illegal pic

Overall, it was a cool experience and we both felt like we got a great workout. The next day my thighs were sore and Mark's calves were burning. Definitely a sign of a great hike!

The next mountain we wanted to try was one right by my birth father's apartment: Yongma Waterfall Park at the Yongmasan subway station. We were expecting all these gorgeous natural waterfalls, but they were actually man-made and turned off since it was too cold. Ah well, the mountain was nice.

There was an old school playground that we had to play on for awhile (of course).




Then we started up the mountain. This one was a lot more natural and a little more difficult to climb... though it didn't seem to stop any of the older climbers. There were even areas of flat rock with rope to grab onto.


As we were climbing it was nice to see some early signs of spring!


And then when we got halfway up the mountain, we were surprised to see this tent with workout equipment. Talk about a warmup before your workout!


The climb did end up being a lot of fun. And we got some incredible views of the city.


Coming from the flat midwest, the ability to hike mountains was cool for us. Hopefully we get to do more of this when we return to Seoul. Maybe we could even plan a trip out of the city to see more.

We're alive

It's been awhile since I blogged. You'd think now that I'm an unemployed bum, I'd have plenty of time... but lately, I just haven't been in the mood. But now that we're in St. Louis and finished with our US traveling, the urge to blog has returned (a bit).

There have been a few fun things to talk about -- both from Korea and at home. I'm going to try to do it in somewhat chronological order, so stay tuned. Who knows, I might just do them all this afternoon.

Oh, and we bought our tickets back to Korea yesterday. We'll be leaving St. Louis on May 25th at 9:55 a.m. and flying to Chicago. Then we'll take Korean Air directly from Chicago to Seoul. Long flight, but anything's better than those long loooong layovers just waiting to get.there.already.