Connect with us

Latest

Nearly 300 demand South Korea probe their adoptions abroad

Avatar photo

Published

on

Nearly 300 demand South Korea probe their adoptions abroad

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — For 40 years, Louise Kwang thought she was an orphan baby found on the streets of the South Korean port city of Busan before her adoption by Danish parents in 1976.

She felt her entire sense of identity collapse in 2016 when her South Korean agency matter-of-factly acknowledged that her origin story was fiction aimed at ensuring her adoptability.

“(The English file) says you were transferred from Namkwang Children’s Home in Pusan (Busan) to KSS for international adoption. In fact, it was just made up for adoption procedure,” Kyeong Suk Lee, a social worker at the Korea Social Service, wrote in a letter to Kwang after she requested her original Korean-language file.

The agency turned out to know about Kwang’s biological parents, including her father whom she later met. There’s no indication Kwang was ever in Busan, which is several hours’ drive from the country’s capital, Seoul, where her father had been living in 1976.

“I was not an orphan. I have never been to Busan nor at the orphanage in Busan,” Kwang said at a news conference in Seoul on Tuesday. “This was all a lie. A lie made up for adoption procedure. I have been made non-existent in Korea, to get me out of Korea as fast as possible.”

Kwang is among nearly 300 South Korean adoptees in Europe and the United States who so far have filed applications calling for South Korea’s government to investigate the circumstances surrounding their adoptions, which they suspect were based on falsified documents that laundered their real status or identities.

Their effort underscores a deepening rift between the world’s largest diaspora of adoptees and their birth nation decades after scores of Korean children were carelessly removed from their families during a foreign adoption boom that peaked in the 1980s.

The Denmark-based group representing the adoptees also on Tuesday delivered a letter to the office of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol urging him to prevent agencies from destroying records or retaliating against adoptees seeking their roots as the agencies face increasing scrutiny about their past practices.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The 283 applications submitted so far to Seoul’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission describe numerous complaints about lost or distorted biological origins.

Some adoptees say they discovered the agencies switched their identities to replace other children who died, were too sick to travel, or were retaken by their Korean families before they could be sent to Western adopters. They say such findings worsen their sense of loss and sometimes lead to false reunions with relatives who turn out to be strangers.

Peter Møller, attorney and co-founder of the Danish Korean Rights Group, said he also plans to sue two Seoul-based agencies -– Holt Children’s Services and KSS -– over their unwillingness to fully open their records to adoptees.

While agencies often cite privacy issues related to birth parents to justify the restricted access, Møller accuses them of inventing excuses to sidestep questions about their practices as adoptees increasingly express frustration about the limited details in their adoption papers that often turn out to be inaccurate or falsified.

Møller’s group last month initially filed applications from 51 Danish adoptees calling for the commission to investigate their adoptions, which were handled by Holt and KSS.

The move attracted intense attention from Korean adoptees from around the world, prompting the group to expand its campaign to Holt and KSS adoptees outside of Denmark. The 232 additional applications submitted Tuesday included 165 cases from Denmark, 36 cases from the United States and 31 cases combined from Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Germany.

The commission, which was set up in December 2020 to investigate human rights atrocities under military governments that ruled South Korea from the 1960s to 1980s, must decide in three or four months whether to open an investigation into the applications filed by the adoptees. If it does, that could trigger the most far-reaching inquiry into foreign adoptions in the country, which has never fully reconciled with the child export frenzy engineered by its past military leaders.

While the commission’s deadline for applications comes in December, Møller said his group will try to persuade the commission to keep the door open for more applications from adoptees if it decides to investigate the cases.

“There are many more adoptees that have written us, called us, been in contact with us. They are afraid to submit to this case because they fear that the adoption agencies will … burn the original documents and retaliate,” said Møller. He said such concerns are greater among adoptees who discovered that the agencies had switched their identities.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Holt didn’t respond to calls for comment. Choon Hee Kim, an adoption worker who has been with KSS since the 1970s, said the agency is willing to discuss issues surrounding its adoptions with adoptees individually but not with the media.

When asked about KSS letters admitting to the falsifying of biological origins, Kim said, “The adoptees are saying they received such letters because they did, and it’s not like they are making things up.”

About 200,000 South Koreans were adopted overseas during the past six decades, mainly to white parents in the United States and Europe and mostly during the 1970s and 1980s.

Military leaders saw adoptions as a way to reduce the number of mouths to feed, solve the “problem” of unwed mothers and deepen ties with the democratic West.

Special laws aimed at promoting foreign adoptions effectively allowed licensed private agencies to bypass proper child relinquishment practices as they exported huge numbers of children to the West year after year.

Most of the South Korean adoptees sent abroad were registered by agencies as legal orphans found abandoned on the streets, although they frequently had relatives who could be easily identified or found. That practice often make their roots difficult or impossible to trace.

It wasn’t until 2013 that South Korea’s government required foreign adoptions to go through family courts, ending the policy that allowed agencies to dictate child relinquishments, transfer of custodies and emigration for decades.

Read More

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Latest

Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

Avatar photo

Published

on

Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli leaders on Sunday credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct Iranian attack involving hundreds of drones and missiles, calling the coordinated response a starting point for a “strategic alliance” of regional opposition to Tehran.

But Israel’s War Cabinet met without making a decision on next steps, an official said, as a nervous world waited for any sign of further escalation of the former shadow war.

The military coalition, led by the United States, Britain and France and appearing to include a number of Middle Eastern countries, gave Israel support at a time when it finds itself isolated over its war against Hamas in Gaza. The coalition also could serve as a model for regional relations when that war ends.

“This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East,” said the Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

One unknown is which of Israel’s neighbors participated in the shooting down of the vast majority of about 350 drones and missiles Iran launched. Israeli military officials and a key War Cabinet member noted additional “partners” without naming them. When pressed, White House national security spokesman John Kirby would not name them either.

But one appeared to be Jordan, which described its action as self-defense.

“There was an assessment that there was a real danger of Iranian marches and missiles falling on Jordan, and the armed forces dealt with this danger. And if this danger came from Israel, Jordan would take the same action,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said in an interview on Al-Mamlaka state television. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday.

The U.S. has long tried to forge a regionwide alliance against Iran as a way of integrating Israel and boosting ties with the Arab world. The effort has included the 2020 Abraham Accords, which established diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries, and having Israel in the U.S. military’s Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East and works closely with the armies of moderate Arab states.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The U.S. had been working to establish full relations between Israel and regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack sparked Israel’s war in Gaza. The war, which has claimed over 33,700 Palestinian lives, has frozen those efforts due to widespread outrage across the Arab world. But it appears that some behind-the-scenes cooperation has continued, and the White House has held out hopes of forging Israel-Saudi ties as part of a postwar plan.

Just ahead of Iran’s attack, the commander of CENTCOM, Gen. Erik Kurilla, visited Israel to map out a strategy.

Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, on Sunday thanked CENTCOM for the joint defensive effort. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are under the CENTCOM umbrella. While neither acknowledged involvement in intercepting Iran’s launches, the Israeli military released a map showing missiles traveling through the airspace of both nations.

“Arab countries came to the aid of Israel in stopping the attack because they understand that regional organizing is required against Iran, otherwise they will be next in line,” Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said he had spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and that the cooperation “highlighted the opportunity to establish an international coalition and strategic alliance to counter the threat posed by Iran.”

The White House signaled that it hopes to build on the partnerships and urged Israel to think twice before striking Iran. U.S. officials said Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington would not participate in any offensive action against Iran.

Israel’s War Cabinet met late Sunday to discuss a possible response, but an Israeli official familiar with the talks said no decisions had been made. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing confidential deliberations.

Asked about plans for retaliation, Hagari declined to comment directly. “We are at high readiness in all fronts,” he said.

“We will build a regional coalition and collect the price from Iran, in the way and at the time that suits us,” said a key War Cabinet member, Benny Gantz.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Iran launched the attack in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel that hit an Iranian consular building in Syria this month and killed two Iranian generals.

By Sunday morning, Iran said the attack was over, and Israel reopened its airspace. Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, claimed Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned that “any new adventures against the interests of the Iranian nation would be met with a heavier and regretful response from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The foes have been engaged in a shadow war for years, but Sunday’s assault was the first time Iran launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran said it targeted Israeli facilities involved in the Damascus strike, and that it told the White House early Sunday that the operation would be “minimalistic.”

But U.S. officials said Iran’s intent was to “destroy and cause casualties” and that if successful, the strikes would have caused an “uncontrollable” escalation. At one point, at least 100 ballistic missiles were in the air with just minutes of flight time to Israel, the officials said.

Israel said more than 99% of what Iran fired was intercepted, with just a few missiles getting through. An Israeli airbase sustained minor damage.

Israel has over the years established — often with the help of the U.S. — a multilayered air-defense network that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats, including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range rockets.

That system, along with collaboration with the U.S. and others, helped thwart what could have been a far more devastating assault at a time when Israel is already deeply engaged in Gaza as well as low-level fighting on its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.

While thwarting the Iranian onslaught could help restore Israel’s image after the Hamas attack in October, what the Middle East’s best-equipped army does next will be closely watched in the region and in Western capitals — especially as Israel seeks to develop the coalition it praised Sunday.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

In Washington, Biden pledged to convene allies to develop a unified response. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. would hold talks with allies. After an urgent meeting, the Group of Seven countries unanimously condemned Iran’s attack and said they stood ready to take “further measures.”

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel’s war in Gaza. In the Oct. 7 attack, militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, also backed by Iran, killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others. Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed over 33,000 people, according to local health officials.

Hamas welcomed Iran’s attack, saying it was “a natural right and a deserved response” to the strike in Syria. It urged the Iran-backed groups in the region to continue to support Hamas in the war.

Hezbollah also welcomed the attack. Almost immediately after the war in Gaza erupted, Hezbollah began attacking Israel’s northern border. The two sides have been involved in daily exchanges of fire, while Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have launched rockets and missiles toward Israel.

___

Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Michelle L. Price in Washington; Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Samy Magdy in Cairo; Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan; and Giada Zampano in Rome contributed to this report.

Read More

Continue Reading

Latest

How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

Avatar photo

Published

on

How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

New York lawmakers are proposing rules to humanely drive down the population of rats and other rodents, eyeing contraception and a ban on glue traps as alternatives to poison or a slow, brutal death.

Politicians have long come up with creative ways to battle the rodents, but some lawmakers are now proposing city and statewide measures to do more.

In New York City, the idea to distribute rat contraceptives got fresh attention in city government Thursday following the death of an escaped zoo owl, known as Flaco, who was found dead with rat poison in his system.

City Council Member Shaun Abreu proposed a city ordinance Thursday that would establish a pilot program for controlling the millions of rats lurking in subway stations and empty lots by using birth control instead of lethal chemicals. Abreu, chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, said the contraceptives also are more ethical and humane than other methods.

The contraceptive, called ContraPest, is contained in salty, fatty pellets that are scattered in rat-infested areas as bait. It works by targeting ovarian function in female rats and disrupting sperm cell production in males, The New York Times reported.

New York exterminators currently kill rats using snap and glue traps, poisons that make them bleed internally, and carbon monoxide gas that can suffocate them in burrows. Some hobbyists have even trained their dogs to hunt them.

Rashad Edwards, a film and television actor who runs pest management company Scurry Inc. in New York City with his wife, said the best method he has found when dealing with rodents is carbon monoxide.

He tries to use the most humane method possible, and carbon monoxide euthanizes the rats slowly, putting them to sleep and killing them. Edwards avoids using rat poison whenever possible because it is dangerous and torturous to the rodents, he said.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Some lawmakers in Albany are considering a statewide ban on glue boards under a bill moving through the Legislature. The traps, usually made from a slab of cardboard or plastic coated in a sticky material, can also ensnare small animals that land on its surface.

Edwards opposes a ban on sticky traps, because he uses them on other pests, such as ants, to reduce overall pesticide use. When ants get into a house, he uses sticky traps to figure out where they’re most often passing by. It helps him narrow zones of pesticide use “so that you don’t go spray the entire place.”

“This is not a problem we can kill our way out of,” said Jakob Shaw, a special project manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “It’s time to embrace these more common sense and humane methods.”

Two cities in California have passed bans on glue traps in recent years. On the federal level, a bill currently in committee would ban the traps nationwide.

“It ends a really inhumane practice of managing rat populations,” said Jabari Brisport, the New York state senator who represents part of Brooklyn and sponsored the bill proposing the new guidelines. “There are more effective and more humane ways to deal with rats.”

Every generation of New Yorkers has struggled to control rat populations. Mayor Eric Adams hired a “rat czar” last year tasked with battling the detested rodents. Last month, New York City reduced the amount of food served up to rats by mandating all businesses to put trash out in boxes.

While the war on rats has no end in sight, the exterminator Edwards said we can learn a lot from their resilience. The rodents, he said, can never be eradicated, only managed.

“They’re very smart, and they’re very wise,” he said. “It’s very inspiring but just — not in my house.”

Read More

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Continue Reading

Entertainment

Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

Avatar photo

Published

on

Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A small earthquake shook the Southern California desert Saturday near Coachella, where the famous music festival is being held this weekend. No damage or injuries were reported.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 3.8, hit at 9:08 a.m. about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Borrego Springs in Riverside County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter was about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Coachella. It struck at a depth of about 7 miles (11 kilometers), the USGS said.

A dispatcher with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said there were no calls reporting any problems from the quake.

Read More

Continue Reading