Adoptee Solidarity Korea needs your help
Innovation, talent and education collide in an upcoming collaboration between activist adoptees and a center for alternative culture in Seoul. Designed as a unique skills-sharing workshop, the event is being held to showcase the wealth of talent among adoptees from various cultural backgrounds living in Seoul and lend financial support to Adoptee Solidarity Korea (ASK), in partnership with Haja Center. While many fundraisers have found success proffering food and drink, this one is modeled trade school and skill-sharing concepts that have taken root in the United States.
At the event, which will take place on Aug. 25 from 2 to 6 p.m. in Seoul, participants can freely move between workshops offered simultaneously at the newly-renovated Haja Creative Hub, part of the Seoul Youth Factory for Alternative Culture located in Yeongdeungpo-gu. The multipurpose building houses a full dance studio and coffee shop, in addition to multiple rooms that will be in full force during the Saturday event.
Some attendees might find inner calm during a yoga session, while others might glean useful tips learning about business startups in Seoul from successful adoptee entrepreneurs, or activate their inner activist in a talk about the politics of food in Korea. Each workshop will last from 30 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, and all workshops will be led by adoptees.
At the center of the event is ASK, Adoptee Solidarity Korea, founded in 2004 by a group of like-minded adult adoptees living in Seoul to raise awareness about, and effect change in, Korea’s intercountry adoption system and related policy. Despite being a top-15 world economy and having one of the lowest birthrates in the world, Korea still sent nearly 1,000 children abroad for adoption last year.
The group believes that the country should prioritize alternatives to adoption, such as stronger support for single mothers and families who want to keep their children, and hopes this will be accomplished through a combination of social and legal reforms. Another part of its mission is to advocate for adoptees and their rights, particularly as that pertains to access to information about their birth families.
“ASK is the first politically minded organization of adoptees in Korea,” said Kim Stoker, ASK’s representative. “By having this kind of fundraiser, we hope to highlight some of the community building aspects of our group.”
ASK is currently focused on advocacy, including overseeing the implementation of a landmark revision to Korea’s adoption law, which was passed last July and is set to go into effect next month, and the continuation of a series of forums addressing the mental health needs of adoptees who have returned to Korea.
For the fundraiser, the organization is partnering with the Haja Creative Hub, which is currently in the midst of a summer school program that aims to foster alternative and creative learning processes for students in order to initiate positive change on a personal and local level.
“The Haja Center has always been a place where cultural and social projects have been essential,” said Mette Nørnberg Pedersen, a project coordinator for Haja Hub and a part of Haja Center’s planning division. “Haja has been and is still a place with a huge drive for societal change, so ASK’s work is relevant for us, because adoption is connected to many different issues in Korea, such as gender inequality, sex education, social welfare, capitalism, children's rights, human rights, and single mothers or single parents.”
A Danish adoptee herself, Nørnberg Pedersen is also an ASK steering committee member, and says she was encouraged by Haja colleagues to collaborate with members of the Korean diaspora on programming initiatives for the center. She said she hopes that participants will channel creativity and inspiration at the workshop.
“I hope the participants will get new inspiration that they draw on in the afterwards,” she said. “Hopefully, they can become inspired to share their own passions, hobbies and professional skills in the future and make new connections.”
Also connected to the event is the Free the Girls campaign, which collects bras to be resold by women rescued from sex trafficking. Donations are encouraged and will be collected on site throughout the day.