Two weekends before I went out for dinner with the former high school teacher and a bunch of Koreans who meet regularly for “English club.”
One of the guys was in the army and told me that he loved CheongPyeong, and that it was similar to Wonju where he’d been stationed. I told him I was born in Wonju, and he said that it was very close by.
Which got me to thinking about how Jennifer was also born in Wonju. Which made me remember a little snippet from my conversations with the director during the SBS documentary. It seems that abandonment of children was actually against the law at the time. So even though I was abandoned in Wonju, I most likely wasn’t born in Wonju, as a parent wouldn’t want to leave a child anywhere they might be recognized as doing so. Which made me think about all the tens of thousands of Korean adoptees who erroneously call their abandonment site the place of their birth. I wonder how far my parent(s) traveled before they deposited me and Kim Sook Ja at the market in Wonju? Hell, maybe I was born ibn CheongPyeong…
The first day of school, with the entire student body assembled for opening ceremonies, I marveled at the lack of girls. Maybe only a quarter of the students are girls at my school. Since it’s the only high school in CheongPyeong, I wondered if there was a lot of aborting females or infanticide during the 80’s in this region. Later, I asked about the lack of girls, and the answer was that girls were not interested in technical schools, and that because of Korea’s open schools policy, they mostly travel to nearby towns to go to more academic high schools. Big sigh of relief on my part. However, with 350,000 abortions a year taking place in Korea, I wonder what the girl/boy ratio is in general. Korea’s this strange place where pastors even advise unwed moms to get abortions, so as not to shame their families.
At a restaurant in CheongPyeong, a mother chases after three children. Families are still larger in the country than the city. Three children is not uncommon here, whereas you won’t find families larger than two children, for the most part, in the Seoul metro area. Back when I was born, families of 6 were common and 10 was not unheard of. Coming from the country, I wonder how many were in my family.
Most days, I am successful pushing adoption out of my thoughts. But little things, especially the sight of small children, bring it back home.