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Take care of yourself son, your mom loves you

Take care of yourself son, your mom loves you is a personal journey in time and a photographic exploration of family relations, adoption, my own story of being an adopted child, and the search for my biological mother.

South Korean adoption began in 1953 as a consequence of the Korean War. As of today, over 200,000 people have been adopted from the country, reaching its heights in the late 70s and early 80s. In 1985, over 8700 babies from South Korea were adopted; an average of 24 babies left the country each day. Even today, stigma persists around single mothers and children born out of wedlock. If you fall pregnant in South Korea and the father wants nothing to do with you, life can be extremely difficult. Many choose to give up their child, because they know that a single mother could be frozen out by family and friends. 

Having children in South Korea is also extremely expensive. There’s a saying that – if you have more than one – you’re either rich or stupid. A single mother with a child faces the grave danger of being financially ruined. 

I came to Norway in 1994, and I’ve often felt different. This in turn created an urge to understand my Korean heritage. I have at times experienced identity crises and asked myself who I am. I’ve spent a lot of time being angry, and blaming my biological mother. But in recent years, I’ve turned the feeling of dissociation into a search for resolve – travelling South Korea to better understand how life might have been for my biological mother. I’ve always dreamt of our first meeting, and I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity. I believe she’s the only one who can answer for my lost memories of a life to which I’m involuntarily attached.

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