'We Deserve to Be Here': The Development o Adoption Critiques by Transnational Korean Adoptees in Denmark


  • Youngeun Koo Tübingen University




Transnational adoption, Korean adoptees, adoption critiques, belonging, racism


Contrary to the dominant perception of transnational adoption as an act of goodness, an increasing number of Korean adult adoptees in Denmark have raised critical voices about the political economy of transnational adoption since the mid-2000s. They have participated in the adoption debate not just as individuals, but through collective critiques and mobilisation. This article looks at the development of political mobilisation led by Korean adoptees in Denmark, following their trajectories both in Korea and in Denmark. The article uses two binaries, which have particularly shaped the lives of transnational adoptees, in order to analyse its emergence and implications. First, there is the division between private and public and the restriction of transnational adoption within the domain of private, which naturalises the belief that transnational adoption is a form of family creation, free from the social and structural. This perception not only affects general understanding of adoptees’ lives after the adoption, but it also continues to pose challenges to the adoptees’ efforts to establish political subjectivity in the adoption debate. I argue that the adoptees’ negotiations with this divide illustrate the need to reconceptualise transnational adoption by uncovering the reciprocity between the private and the public in practice. Second, Korean adoptees occupy a liminal position in Danish national imaginaries that tend to erect boundaries between (white) Danes and ethnic minorities. The adoptees’ political project is affected by this division, but they also strive to carve out a new space of politics and explore a radically different way of imagining belonging to Danish society.