Pre-Korean War

Setting the stage for adoption

Sample of a Hojeok (this one is a “orphan hojeok” created by an adoption agency)
  • Factors that set a precedent for Western influence and impact on South Korean “welfare”:
    • Prior to the Korea War, western-style orphanages already existed in Korea. The first western-style orphanages were set up by Christian missionaries in the late 1800s.
    • Caring for family members was not seen as a responsibility of the government but as the responsibility of the family.
    • During the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910-1945, social services were not provided to the entire population.
    • The Japanese Government General of Korea let Christian organizations provide a disproportionate share of the services.  
  • Relevance of the Hojeok (“Family Register”): 
    • Patrilineal system where only men could register has head of a family
    • Children were registered under the paternal line
    • When a female married, she was removed from her father’s registry and added to her husband’s
    • Must be registered to be considered a citizen and have access to schooling, job opportunities, etc.
    • In 2005 this system was abolished and as of 2007-8 women can now also register as the “head of family”
  • The family registry system had an impact later at the onset of transnational adoption in the 1950s, and through the 2000s. The above hojeok is an “orphan hojeok.” Orphanages created these so babies could be adopted.  It has quite a bit of Hanja (Chinese characters) because, back in the early 1960s, official papers still used Hanja.
  • Emphasis on Korean nationalism, building a mono-racial society with an emphasis on racial purity (in response to Japanese Occupation)