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Archive for December, 2012

Park Chung-hee was the president of Korea when I was child. He came to power through a coup d’état.

I was then too young to know his name, too young to know politics.

If Korea had sold me off to a foreign country a year or two later, I could have learned his name.

The early collaboration between the adoption industry and the dictatorship was responsible for sending over 50 000 children overseas.

I began understanding the concepts of politics about a year after my adoption, first by learning my uncle was the mayor of the city where I lived and then by learning the names of the mayor of Montreal and of the Prime Ministers of Quebec and Canada.

If I hadn’t been sent off from Korea, I would have learned the name Park Chung-hee and the history of Korea instead of the names Pierre Elliott Trudeau and René Lévesque and the history of Quebec and Canada.

I know very little of the history of my birth country. I’ve learned the name of Park Chung-hee thanks to Jane Jeong Trenka by reading her posts on her Facebook wall.

During my childhood in Korea, I knew police was corrupt. The police ignored all of my father’s complaints against a woman who stole his money because the police station was next to the tavern she owned and policemen were friends with her. When he put a wrong address on his last letter of complaint, they arrested immediately the man residing at that address. No wonder why policemen wouldn’t even try to find the homes of lost children.
Policemen had lot of power. They would stop public buses anywhere for their spouses and children. It sucked to see their family members taking bus for free when ordinary people had difficulty to buy food.
Korea was already preparing to become rich and modern. At school and Sunday school, we were taught to cross street by footbridge or at traffic lights. Once my father and I were arrested and jailed for a few hours for having crossed a boulevard anywhere. There was then no need to be so strict as there was not much traffic, unless Korea knew it would become rich and modern as it is today.

But like all children, I was raised to be patriotic. I learned at young age to sing the song “taegukgi” (Korean flag) and I’ve never forgotten the words. I also learned to say proudly “uri daehanminguk” (our Republic of Korea); I don’t think I knew what it meant when I first said it. I learned to sing proudly the national anthem of Korea with my right arm on my chest; I still remember a few words of the anthem. During a certain period of summer, a taegukgi was put at almost every courtyard door or house; the national anthem was played across the city (of Seoul) at a specific time of the day; kids and adults would stop to sing with their arms on their chests looking at the nearest flag. At school there was a taegukgi in front of every class rooms. Kids were raised to be patriotic and to love and respect our country and our flag. Once the teacher said to keep our country clean; the same day and the following days, I swept the earth ground outside of our courtyard. I was sad when the teacher talked about an athlete of our country who won a competition wearing our enemy country’s flag. At the awful orphanage where kids were beaten everyday for no reason, we had to get up early to get in rows like soldiers and sing the national anthem before doing physical exercises.

I was 8 years old when I heard of the assassination attempt of the president Park Chung-hee. I still didn’t know his name. I was in a bus going from Seoul to Suwon when soldiers stationed at every street corner stopped the bus to search everywhere. Back home I asked my sister what the soldiers were looking for. She told me someone had tried to assassinate the president but his wife had saved his life by throwing herself in front of him and she praised her calling her the hero of our country. After hearing the story, I told myself that one day I would become a hero of “uri nara” (our country).

Instead of becoming a hero, I have become a product of Korea sold to Canadians through the USA. Instead of being raised as a Korean, I was recycled to a white French Canadian, badly recycled as my body and blood have remained Korean.

It makes me sad to think of “uri nara”. It hurts me to death to have been sold by my own country and my own people that I loved so much.

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