Return to Kyung Dong

By Sunny Jo (July 4, 1999)

Kyung Dong Babies’ Home in Suwon. The orphanage where I lived for a few
months before being was adopted to a family in Norway at age 1 1/2. I
was 23 years old and I it was my first time back to Korea and Kyung
Dong.

Accompanied by 4 of my Korean friends who were to act as translators, I
was about to visit a place I used to call “home” yet was unable to
consciously remember. It was very special to be back. The original
building was still there, the same one that had housed myself and
probably thousands of other children through the years.

We were welcomed by the orphanage director and the staff. The director,
Chung Uei-Soon, had been the one in charge even back in the 1970s when I
was in there, so she was very touched by my visit. Due to her lack of
English language skills and my lack of Korean, it was difficult to
communicate. Luckily I had my friends there to translate, but a lot was
lost due to linguistic and cultural difference. Some things though, do
not need words to be expressed. She hugged me over and over, and she was
holding my hand most of the time.

I got my Korean name, Jung Ahn-Sun, by the director. Jung (Chung) is her
own family name, and Ahn is because I came from the city of Ahn yang.

I got to see my file from my stay in the orphanage. It contained the
name of the woman who brought me there + her address! That was
completely new information to me. When I had contacted my adoption
agency some years back, they told me all my files had been damaged in a
fire in the orphanage. Turns out that my file had been there the entire
time. I was in shock.

I went to play with the kids. They were so cute. When I held one little
girl in my arms I could not help thinking that she was about the same
age as I had been when living there. I also got to see and hold the
youngest babies. The youngest was only a month old. I could not help but
to think about what tragedy must have caused their mothers to abandon
these little ones. But even more, I thought about what the future would
hold for them, if they were to be sent off to an uncertain fate far away
the same way I had been. My heart sank when thinking about it. Maybe 20
years into the future, one of these children will return to Kyung Dong,
speaking another language than Korean as their mother tongue. Maybe one
day even they will visit Korea, the country of their birth, yet be
nothing more than tourists. Maybe.

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