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Framed by WarKorean Children and Women at the Crossroads of US Empire$
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Susie Woo

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479889914

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479889914.001.0001

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Producing Model Korean Adoptees

Producing Model Korean Adoptees

(p.112) 4 Producing Model Korean Adoptees
Framed by War

Susie Woo

NYU Press

This chapter complicates popular visions of the model Korean adoptee. It begins by examining how the Immigration and Naturalization Service monitored which Korean children were fit for entry, and sought to assure that they would not become charges of the state once they arrived. Hiring the International Social Service to manage the placement of Korean children, the INS transferred its responsibility to adoptive parents, a move that laid bare the interconnectedness of state and private entities. The chapter also shows how Harry Holt found ways to circumvent the red tape. His crusade to bring Korean GI babies to the United States necessitated their racial management, since existing domestic adoption policies precluded the crossing of black-white lines. What resulted ranged from state agencies denying African American couples’ adoption applications to South Korean prejudice against mixed-race children, particularly those “mixed with black.” The chapter closes with a look at the model construction of full-Korean adoptees in popular media as a way to reveal how making Korean children Christian, well-behaved, and assimilable was not happenstance, but rather a transnational process that began in US-administered orphanages in South Korea and was later overseen in the United States.

Keywords:   model minority, Orientalism, Immigration and Naturalization Service, International Social Service, Korean-black children, racial discrimination, liberalism, assimilation

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