The above link includes an article regarding the recent suicide of well-known Korean actress, Choi Jin Sil.
It is insights like those provided through this article and even more poignantly and distressingly through the actions of a woman like Choi Jin Sil that confirm in my heart that my birth mother's relinquishment of me saved me, and hopefully saved her as well.
There are aspects and elements of Korean culture that I value and appreciate greatly--the strong sense of family and loyalty, the discipline, the culture of respect and reverence, the food (of course!), to name just a few.
However, time and time again, I breathe a deep sigh of relief when I am reminded of the harsh and hostile environment created for single mothers and their children by a culture that values and emphasizes bloodlines above all else. I sigh in relief that I did not have to grow up in the face of such hostility and ostracization.
Certainly, I have faced other forms of alienation and isolation as a Korean adoptee growing up in America, but nothing close to that which unwed birth mothers and their children must endure in Korea.
Although I have encountered blatant racism, prejudice, and marginalization due to my Asian descent, I have always had family and friends in which I could find comfort and reassurance. Additionally, the opportunities to pursue an education and work have never been prohibited by my race. Most importantly, as I have already mentioned, I have never had to live without a supportive community of friends and loved ones to help me along the way.
Women like Choi Jin Sil and myriad nameless unwed birth mothers face a level of stigmatization and alienation that at one time somewhat existed in America, but has since vastly dissipated, in particular, in comparison to what still remains in Korea.
It breaks my heart for these women.
It also fills my heart with compassion when I think of my birth mother. I can only begin to imagine what she had to endure during her pregnancy as well as throughout the aftermath, if women in similar circumstances today still continue to grapple with the same terror, fear, and loneliness that my birth mother faced over thirty years ago.
I hope that Korean society will respond to the tragic death of Choi Jin Sil not only with deep compassion and concern, but even more so with a sincere and urgent willingness to examine the forces within its cultural dynamic that make suicide a more appealing option than to live out one's precious life.
May love and comfort come to Choi Jin Sil's children during this tragic time.