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It was actually fairly easy as I called the Korean embassy in DC and told them I was adopted and was looking for my Korean biological mother.
They gave me this number for these American nuns in Korea who had kind of made it their life’s work to reunite these adoptees with their biological Korean families.
He explained to her how I was doing and showed her pictures of me and that I had started pre-school.
After that initial shock, she felt content with the knowledge that I was okay.
I went completely militant and was reading about Malcolm X for the first time and all these famous African-Americans and I felt a sense of pride and that I finally belonged somewhere. I think every kid whether adopted, not adopted, mixed or not mixed, you just go through the craziness of being a teenager. Prior to working on Kimchi Chronicles, had you been to Korea before? She was picking out this outfit for me to go to my new family in.
I wasn’t really accepted as African-American because I don’t really look “full” African-American. I went to a performance arts high school in DC for two years that was predominantly Black called Duke Ellington. I always knew I was adopted and remembered my birth mother. Kids like us were not given official birth certificates in Korea, so I didn’t really exist on paper until 1979 when my adoption was going through. I remember my mother taking me to pick out a dress at one of those little markets in Korea where they have everything on the walls.
Although the series is primarily focused on Korean cuisine and culture, it also intertwines Marja’s personal story. He left my mother when she was seven months pregnant with me, so he never saw me. My brother is also Korean/African-American but with different biological parents. I went to a predominantly white school with a small amount of Asian and Black kids, so there wasn’t much mixture there.
As a mixed Korean adoptee, she was fortunate to have vast documentation and pictures of her early life in Korea that was collected by her adopted family. I only met one and was shocked as I thought I was the only one in the universe.
I gave them all the information I had and I talked to them for about 20 minutes on the phone and three months later I received a call from them telling me that she was in Brooklyn.
So, you had no idea that she was actually in America?