The Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies Call for Papers

International Adoption from Korea and Overseas Adopted Koreans:
The Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies
Call for Papers

Symposium Date: August 3, 2010
Planned location: IKAA Korean Adoptee Gathering, Seoul, Korea.  For more information about the Gathering, see
Symposium Sponsor: IKAA (International Korean Adoptee Associations).  For more information about IKAA, see
Submissions Due by:  September 15, 2009
Submit to:
Questions?  Contact Kim Park Nelson,

If selected, your complete, full-length paper (up to 15 single-spaced pages) will be due January 1, 2010.  Submission of a full-length paper by the due date is a requirement for participation in the Symposium.  You may also be invited to participate in a research panel at the Gathering the week following the Symposium.

Submission Deadline and Instructions
Complete submissions (cover sheet, paper proposal and CV) must be received by September 15, 2009 by 5:00 PM (U.S.A. Central Time). No late proposals will be accepted. We will accept proposals via email only.  A cover page submitted without attached proposal or CV is NOT considered complete. We will not accept or consider submissions that are lacking information. Selection notifications will be made by e-mail by the end of November.

Criteria for selection
While we encourage submissions from everyone, we will prioritize papers from academics who have completed a terminal degree or who are currently enrolled in terminal master’s or Ph.D. programs. We also seek presentations/papers on a range of topics (some of which are outlined below) that represent as many of the current research approaches on Korean adoption as possible.

Introduction and presentation
The International Korean Adoptee Associations (IKAA) plans to convene the Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies as part of the 2010 Korean Adoptee Gathering 2010.

The aim of the symposium is to establish and explore this new and rapidly expanding academic field. The field of Korean adoption studies is specifically concerned with international adoption from Korea, as well as with overseas adopted Koreans. It has recently emerged as an area of study both in Korea, the country of origin, and in the Western receiving countries to which Korean children have been sent for adoption. This symposium will bring together scholars from around the world who are conducting research in the field of Korean adoption studies. These scholars are working at the multidisciplinary intersections of Asian and Korean studies, postcolonial and cultural studies, and social and behavioural sciences. Their work is also engaged with issues of ethnicity, migration and diaspora, and globalization and transnationalism.

This day long and multidisciplinary symposium will take place in Seoul, South Korea, and will be comprised of paper presentations and open discussions. The papers will be published as a volume of collected proceedings, which will be distributed at the Symposium and also made available to university libraries. The First Symposium in 2007 laid the foundation for the growing network of Korean Adoption Studies scholars, and the 2010 Symposium will be an opportunity to continue expanding the network, to include a wider range of scholarship and to incorporate work being done by scholars in Korea.

Background and purpose
South Korea’s history of over half a century of continuous and uninterrupted international adoption provides the background for this symposium. Since the 1953 armistice that suspended the Korean War, almost 200,000 Korean children have been sent for adoption to 15 principal host countries in the Western world. Of those children, over 120,000 were sent to the United States, 60,000 to Europe (with half in Scandinavia of which 10,000 arrived in Sweden alone), and the remaining 10,000 were sent to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In its significant demographic scope, its lengthy time span, and its wide-ranging geographic spread, international adoption from Korea is unprecedented in modern history as the largest global transfer of children in the world. Today, still around 1,500 children leave Korea every year for adoption to eight different Western countries. The child welfare practice commonly known as international adoption, i.e., the transnational/ transcontinental, and, often, transracial/transcultural adoption, of predominantly non-Western children to primarily Western parents, was carried out in Korea directly following the war.  As such, Korean adoption has become a model for understanding subsequent waves of international adoption. Furthermore, adopted Koreans are not only the most numerous, diverse and widespread of the world’s child migrants, but also constitute the first generation and population of transnational and transracial adoptees. The field of Korean adoption studies thus provides a foundation for understanding international adoption and internationally adopted people as a whole.

Past and Current Research
For many years, the subject of international adoption from Korea and adopted Koreans was an under-researched area in academia. The field, as it existed then, was dominated by professionals in social work, psychology, and medicine. The first academic studies on Korean adoption started to come out in the mid-1970s, both in Korea and in the West, but it was not until the mid-1990s that one could begin to talk about a full-fledged field of Korean adoption studies.

In Korean academia, the majority of adoption studies discuss international adoption in terms of social welfare or legislation, and primarily from the perspectives of social work and family law. But Korean research interest in adult adopted Koreans has grown in recent years, with studies focusing on the life consequences for adoptees who have revisited Korea and/or reunited with their Korean family members, as well as cultural studies oriented textual analyses of adopted Korean self-narratives.

On the other side of the world, adoption scholarship in the leading adopting regions of North America, Scandinavia and Western Europe mainly focus on the behavioral and emotional adjustment of adoptees, including their attachment and adjustment to the adoptive family and assimilation and acculturation to the host culture. In addition, a growing number of studies have started to look at Korean international adoption from a comparative historical perspective and others have conceptualized it as a migratory practice linked to globalization and transnational processes. There is also a growing body of research on adoptees’ language detrition and attrition and their cultural output of art, film, and literature.

Finally, a new research trend that has emerged both in Korea and in the West deals with the question of an identity and community specific to adopted Koreans, in the context of existing theories of ethnicity, migration, and diaspora.

This symposium aims to bring together researchers who focus either on international adoption from Korea or on overseas adopted Koreans from these different perspectives and approaches.

Themes and Topics
We welcome submissions from any academic background or perspective, and especially welcome work with multi-or interdisciplinary perspectives.  Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):

• The Korean state and international adoption policy /adoption and Korea’s image in the world. We especially encourage the submission of papers that focus on Korean adoption as a social, cultural or political phenomenon within the nation of South Korea including research that originates from within South Korea.

• Korean adoptees as part of Korean diaspora and/or Korean adoption as a part of Asian North American, Asian European, or Asian Australian experience.

• Comparative projects that examine Korean adoption and adoption from other countries.

• In-between identities and familial relations and the impact of Korean adoption on the adoption triad members.

• Empirical research that examines a specific question or salient issue within the Korean adoptee community, including the behavioural adjustment and emotional development of Korean adoptees from normative standpoints as opposed to pathologized approaches. We also encourage work that can detail the logic of inquiry or research methods, and that provides sufficient evidence to support and interpret results.

• Projects that explore the social phenomenon of multiple group status held by Korean adoptees and their relative experiences in North America, Australia, and Europe.

• Korean adoptees as subjects of cultural production including literature, fine arts, or blogs.  We especially encourage work that examines Korean a
doption in documentary or cinema.

The Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies Paper Proposal Submission Cover Sheet

(Please Complete One Cover Sheet per Presenter)


Paper Title:

Academic Affiliation/Department:

Position (Master’s or Ph. D. status or current academic title):

Address (include street address, city, state and/or country):


Adoption Status (please bold your status):
Korean Adoptee
Adoptive Parent 
Adoptee, Non-Korean
Not Adopted

Will you be available to travel to Korea to participate in the symposium? (please bold your response)

Would you be interested in publishing your paper in the conference proceedings even if you cannot attend the symposium? (please bold your response)

Are you able to procure your own funding to travel to Korea to participate in the symposium? (please bold your response)

If so, please identify your funding source: 

Please attach your brief CV (two pages or less) and paper proposal of not more than 500 words.



Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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