Image via Reuters
This story has updated figures, according to the latest news reports.
A South Korean ferry carrying 477 people, most of them high school students, sank off the southern coast on Wednesday, with two reported dead, according to Reuters.
Rescue efforts were still underway, with CNN reporting that 295 were still unaccounted for, and 180 rescued.
“The ferry is almost completely submerged,” Lee Gyeong-Og, the vice minister of security and public administration, said at a briefing in Seoul. He said that 34 naval, coastguard and civilian vessels were involved in the rescue operation, along with 18 helicopters and Navy SEALs.
AFP reported that 325 of the passengers on the ferry bound for Jeju-do were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, south of Seoul, and that crew comprised the remainder, though other media have reported slightly different numbers.
Disney’s animated blockbuster hit, Frozen, continues to be the talk of the town as RyanSeacrest.com recently held a contest asking fans which YouTube artist they thought performed the best cover of the film’s Oscar-winning song “Let It Go,” originally sung by Idna Menzel.
Many YouTubers put their best effort forward as 25 competitors competed in five rounds to win the votes and hearts of fans around the world. Among those competing were several Korean Americans who each placed in the top 12, including third place winner, Grace Lee. Grace Lee’s rendition of “Let It Go” can be found below. Continue Reading »
South Korea unveiled this month a new set of policies regulating marriages with foreigners, including requirements for the latter to pass a Korean language proficiency test and for Korean partners to have a minimum annual income of 14.8 million won ($14,000), AFP reports.
Officials backing the latest regulations, effective April 1, say such policies address the two main issues causing marital conflict among such mixed-marriage couples: communication and low income.
“Strong state intervention is inevitable to stop ineligible people from buying foreign brides,” a Justice Ministry official said, according to the AFP. “This is a diplomatic issue related to our national image.”
One Adoption Does Not Represent All
The debate over intercountry adoption from Korea was reignited recently by news of the death of Hyunsu O’Callaghan, a 3-year-old special needs child adopted from Korea to an American family, Brian and Jennifer O’Callaghan of Maryland. Authorities allege that the adoptive father, employed by the U.S. National Security Agency, beat Hyunsu to death, though Brian O’Callaghan has maintained his innocence. Last month, O’Callaghan was indicted on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse, after a grand jury determined there was enough evidence to move forward with charges against him. Following is the second of two commentaries written by Korean American adoptees advocating for very different responses to this tragedy.
by STEVE MORRISON
Many adoptees and Koreans are justifiably upset at the death of Hyunsu O’Callaghan, who was allegedly murdered by his adoptive father Brian O’Callaghan. Mr. O’Callaghan has served in the Iraq War and is an employee of the NSA overseeing the Korea Project. The tragedy for 3-year-old Hyunsu occurred only four months after his arrival to his new home. The adoptive father has been charged with first-degree murder, and the investigation continues to determine how and why this innocent little life was snuffed out. The father maintains the boy fell down and hit his head while taking a shower, but the investigation showed multiple injuries, including skull fractures at the front and back part of his head, thus raising suspicion that the death was not a mere accident as the father had claimed.
The news of this tragedy has shocked the entire Korean adoption community, and resulted in numerous protests and calls for justice in Korea. In particular, a group of adoptees and Koreans who have long been opposed to the intercountry adoption program in Korea set up memorials with banners that read, “Sorry Hyunsu, for not being able to protect you …” or “Hyunsu was adopted to the U.S. and beaten to death by his father.”
While such passionate demonstrations are understandable, as the days went by, these activists started to use this tragedy as a political platform to paint an ugly picture of intercountry adoption, and to put an end to the program in Korea. While the public has the right to demand answers in this tragic case, and every effort must be made to correct the flaws in the system so it won’t ever be repeated, I strongly disagree with some of the messages being advocated by these activists. Continue Reading »
What Is a Korean Child Worth?
The debate over intercountry adoption from Korea was reignited recently by news of the death of Hyunsu O’Callaghan, a 3-year-old special needs child adopted from Korea to an American family, Brian and Jennifer O’Callaghan of Maryland. Authorities allege that the adoptive father, employed by the U.S. National Security Agency, beat Hyunsu to death, though Brian O’Callaghan has maintained his innocence. Last month, O’Callaghan was indicted on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse, after a grand jury determined there was enough evidence to move forward with charges against him. Following is the first of two commentaries written by Korean American adoptees advocating for very different responses to this tragedy.
by LAURA KLUNDER
Let us take a moment of silence for Hyunsu O’Callaghan.
On Feb. 21, at the Hongdae Children’s Park in Seoul, members of KoRoot, Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea, Adoptee Solidarity Korea, Dandelions and The Korean Unwed Mothers and Families Association gathered together to remember this Korean child who was adopted to the United States last October and entrusted to the care of Brian Patrick O’Callaghan, chief of the U.S. National Security Agency Korea division. Yet, at 3 years old, Hyunsu is dead.
Since news broke of Hyunsu’s autopsy results—including a fracture at the base of his skull, bruises to the forehead, and swelling of the brain—and his adoptive father stands trial for the alleged murder, people around the world have engaged in passionate dialogue about intercountry adoption. As a social worker and a Korean American adoptee, I am professionally and intimately involved in this dialogue. Continue Reading »