One of the most sensitive topics in South Korean society is international adoption, a topic that is bound up in conflicting ideals of nationalism, development and what constitutes a “normal family.” The matter is sensitive for Korean adoptees on a different level. Many wind up in North American and European countries where, while usually raised in loving families, they must cope with issues of race and tolerance they wouldn’t have encountered in the same way had they grown up in Korea.
This week, a young Korean-American adoptee, Amy Ginther, has been performing a play in Seoul that deals with the identity issues she faced. Called “Between: Growing Up (Adopted),” the play is about what happens during an adoptee’s trip to find her birth family back in South Korea. It’s based on Ms. Ginther’s real life. “I play about six, seven different characters, ranging from a young 8-year-old adoptee girl to an unwed Korean mother, and a few other characters,” Ms. Ginther said in an interview. “It’s both funny and sad. It’s meant to encapsulate different aspects of Korean-American adoption and to illustrate its complexities.”
The play opens with a portrayal of a letter Ms. Ginther wrote to her birth mother, who she met seven years ago with help from a Korean friend. “I cannot imagine the difficulty of giving up a child because of circumstances you cannot control. What you did made it possible for me to have a wonderful life in America. Even though you could not raise me, you still continue to be a part of my life,” she wrote in the letter. Ms. Ginther said she invited her birth mother to attend the show this weekend.