Back to Events of Wednesday 07th July 2021

Monday
31
JAN

01:00 PM

Transnational Biopolitics and Cold War Geopolitics: Intercountry Adoption between “Divided” Korea and “Neutral” Sweden

Youngeun Koo (Korean Studies, University of Tübingen)

Sweden, together with Norway and Denmark, has one of the highest international (and South Korean) adoption rates per capita amongst all receiving countries and this has frequently been used in news reporting as a sign of success of the practice and an expression of humanitarianism and goodness in Scandinavia. Drawing on records from the Swedish and South Korean state archives, this talk offers a critical, transnational history of South Korean-Swedish adoption during the early period between 1964 and 1975. The first large-scale placements of South Korean children in Swedish homes can be traced to the mid-1960s, when the Swedish welfare state identified South Korea as a potential sending country and drew an adoption agreement. Soon, adoption between the two countries rapidly expanded, helping both sending and receiving governments to solve domestic population issues transnationally. The crux of the talk focuses on two abrupt adoption suspensions to Scandinavia imposed by the Park Chung Hee government and the responses from Sweden in the first half of the 1970s. They show that the shifting Cold War relations in the Korean peninsula and Scandinavia turned South Korean adoption into a highly political issue, but the activities of both governments reveal that adoption was not simply reactive, but significantly challenged and shaped formal politics and international relations. I conclude by drawing upon a case of T’ak-un whose troubled adoption coincided with the adoption ban to highlight the diverse ways in which Cold War geopolitics permeated lived experiences of children and families.

Streaming / Video URL

https://heiconf.uni-heidelberg.de/zmta-7tur-3nkr-xnzt

Organizer

Zentrum für Ostasienwissenschaften

Homepage Organizer

https://www.zo.uni-heidelberg.de

Contact

Institut für Sinologie

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