Even Draw

According to Korean teachers, two three Korean school teachers are in the hospital today after a two week hunger strike of just water and salt.  These strikes were to protest the firing of over 80 teachers last year – all union leaders who dared to speak out on the union’s position against the government’s anti collective bargaining stance.  Being an active union member these days is a significant commitment, and no small consideration.

It seems the teachers union got into hot water last year when they attempted to encourage students and their parents to not participate in national testing. While there is some media attention in worldwide education circles, the hunger strikes and firings have gotten very little press in the Korean media, due to self-censorship.

How many administrations does it take before the legacy of dictatorships goes away?  Before people can really feel free to exercise their rights?  Korea appears to be a democracy, but people still feel oppressed, and as the above example shows, for good reason.  I wonder how much is centuries old internalized cultural repression and how much of it is actually institutionalized?

I wrote elsewhere last week, responding to someone asking, would you rather have not been adopted?  In reference to the country I was sent to and the country of my birth, I told them it was an even draw.  I am spoiled with the liberties afforded me by my adoptive country and can’t come here and fully embrace the repression of this country.  I am spoiled now by the knowledge of having a cultural history and way of life so I can never go back to being the white person I imagined hoped myself to be in the country I was sent to.

6 thoughts on “Even Draw

  1. That is an amazing thing. To be pulled on by so many strong forces at once.

    I was thinking about what I have learned about Korean culture from you and your peers while hanging out with my seven year old the other day. He is still young to be understanding all of these things, but I do believe he knows enough to grasp the idea of different cultures.

    And I said to him that I don’t know if he could ever be a part of what is Korean culture, but he certainly will be a part of what it will become when he becomes a man. That left him a little confused, but he will figure it out.

  2. I think it is different here for those that have found their families. For the rest of us, I’m not sure Korea can give us much after all this time and distance.

    Bittersweet. Mostly bitter.

  3. Oh, I worry so much about that. I am fairly surprised at how much it gets to me when I realize what their chances are. Damn, I’m glad it hurts me instead them yet, but that’s only because I know how much it will hurt them.


  4. Aren’t emotions fun?

    Sorry to comment again, but this reminded me of a dream I have.

    My seven year old’s mother was 17 when he was born. And he was born at his grandmother’s house. So far as we know. I imagine she is probably about my age.

    And I dream of him dragging a heavy backpack of clothes to her door, to spend time with her. Maybe over Summers when he’s out of school. Or for some major holiday or other.

    And as time goes by I become more willing to break their stupid rules and actually make it possible for him to feel that love before it is too late. And to build those memories in the place where his existence began.

  5. If you go to the facebook group, Korean Adoptees for Fair Records Access, and then you scroll down to the photos, there are two photos posted by a mom who searched for his son’s family.

    The mother was MIA, as she put it, but the boy got to meet his halmoni and half brother. The look of peace and happiness on the boy’s face is priceless.

    If you can do this – it would be the greatest gift…

  6. Thanks for that bit of hope. I will certainly try.

    I was just reading last night how I am supposed to believe that contact for them should wait until they are adults. That they simply cannot process having family be as complex as ours is.

    I went through a lot of upheaval myself as a child and I know from that what works and what doesn’t. And any connection one can have to the people they are a part of is always a good thing.

    I think the problem for some APs is they feel threatened. They feel as if they are giving up their family for someone else. Whereas I believe that their family back in Korea IS their family. My job is to support that. I don’t lose anything if my children are happy. Possession is not the rule here. Connections are.

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