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2014 National + International Newsbriefs (Click here for: Twin Cities Newsbriefs)

Adoptee organization introduces a Kimchi Festival in Copenhagen 

The Copenhagen Kimchi Festival took place from June 27 to July 3 in Torvehallerne, the largest food market in Copenhagen with more than 60,000 weekly visitors. 

The Festival was organized by Korea Klubben, the Danish Association of Korean Adoptees, with Korean government partners.  

The six-day program included: Daily food demonstrations and tastings by Korean chef Oliver Sang Joon Ko, the Fire K/Seed Hoddeok Street Kitchen, and Korea Klubben’s Food Team.  In addition to kimchi, attendees did various tastings of tea, makkoli, other traditional drinks, snacks and sauces. 

The festival also celebrated Korean arts and culture through hangul writing and paper art workshops, daily music performances by VIA TRIO from Korea, K-pop flashmobs and performances by students from the Korean Dong-ah Institute of Media and Arts (DIMA) in collaboration with the Danish K-pop Lovers group. There was also a taekwondo demonstration by the Danish ShinWonHwa Taekwondo School.

Per Vinther, the coordinator of the food at the Kimchi Festival created a special fusion roast pork/kimchi sandwich made from organic pork (with the special crust favoured by Danes), a kochujang-based spread and a whole wheat bun.  The sandwich made national television in Denmark.  It became so popular that people returned to the Festival throughout the week to get more, and the Festival’s food team had a hard time keeping up with the demand.

For almost 25 years, Korea Klubben has been dedicated to building bridges between Denmark and Korea and has facilitated a significant number of cross-cultural exchanges.  Korean adoptees in Denmark are not necessarily experts in Korean culture, according to Korea Klubben member and Festival organizer Liselotte Birkemose, but they are nevertheless placed in a unique position to promote Korean culture in their adoptive countries.  

Over the past years there has been an increasing interest in Korea and Korean culture in Denmark, however the general knowledge of Korean culture is still quite limited.  That is why Korea Klubben decided to launch the Copenhagen Kimchi Festival as an annual event that wishes to promote various aspects of Korean culture through the introduction of the Korean cuisine to a broader Danish public; not just focusing on its uniqueness but also its possible fusion with Danish/Nordic cuisine.

Although Korea Klubben was the main organizer of the Festival, partners funded the event and volunteers carried out the work.  The Korea Klubben partnered with the Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) of Copenhagen for this event, along with the Korean Embassy in Denmark.  The festival was also supported by the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Volunteers were provided by the Korean Students’ Association in Denmark, the Korean Church, the Korean Community Association, and the Korean Embassy. 

From Kimbap tp Kpop, Chicago street festival 2014 

The Chicago Korean Street Festival 2014, under the theme From Kimbap to Kpop, will be held on the streets of old Koreatown, on Bryn Mawr Avenue between Pulaski and Kimball streets on Chicago’s North Side, August 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

This year, visitors can take home their own handcrafted batch of kimchi from the Kimchi Workshops, a new event this year.   This family-friendly event is appropriate for kids and seniors, with dedicated areas and activities for both age groups. Many events are established attractions for the young adults aged 18-35, including a singing contest, a B-boy/B-girl battle, a K-pop Dance Off and Ssireum traditional wrestling. 

For more information, see the website of the Chicago Korean Chamber of Commerce, at

Social Quarters Korean networkers donate $7,800 to nonprofits 

A networking organization for Korean Americans, founded in 2013, is making a splash in the busy Korean community of greater Chicago. 

Founder Steven Chong and a group of 10 volunteers have organized networking events every three months for students and young professionals. Proceeds are donated to local charities. Korean Americans are very spread out in the suburbs of Chicagoland and Social Quarters is designed to meet each other for both friendship and business networking. Upcoming events sponsored by Social Quarters can be viewed on its Facebook site Social Quarters Chicago.

NAKASEC celebrates 20th anniversary 

The National Korean American Service and Educational Consortium (NAKASEC) a leading advocacy organization for civil rights issues in the Korean American community is celebrating its 20th anniversary (and its affiliate organization Korean Resource Center, its 31st anniversary, in a joint fundraiser August 8, in Los Angeles. 

The joint celebration is under the theme “Building a Movement for Change” reflecting the work and vision of NAKASEC in supporting immigrants’ rights, particularly youth raised in the U.S. and the effort to stop deportations that separate families.  The event is at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. To donate or sponsor, contact

Approved for Adoption to be screened at UN and at South Korean National Assembly 

The assistant secretary general of the United Nations Franz Baumann will speak on a panel in connection with a screening and discussion of the documentary Approved for Adoption, to be held Friday, May 16, at the United Nations in New York. 

The film will also have a screening at the National Assembly in Seoul on May 7, and the film will be opened nationally in Korea after that. 

Jennifer Arndt-Johns, executive director of the Minneapolise-based media education organization Rainbow World, said the UN screening was arranged under the auspices of the UN’s Academic Impact Initiative Program, a network of colleges and universities around the world. At the New York opening of the Approved for Adoption in January, she connected with the right people to help her get it there, ultimately writing to Secretary-General Ki Moon Ban to inquire about the possibility; she then was referred to the Academic Impact Initiative program. The screening coincides with a subject matter theme in connection with the International Day of the Family, she said. 

In addition to the assistant secretary general, panelists will include the filmmaker Jung Henin;  Lynn Franklin, author of May the Circle be Unbroken: An Intimate Journey into the Heart of Adoption; and Minnesotan academic and Korean adoptee Kim Park Nelson.

Arndt-Johns said her greatest hope for the screening is that it will “raise consciousness on a global level for the need for more adoption education around the world.” In general, international adoption is poorly understood, she explained, and there is little formal scholarship on it.  “Globally, it’s a huge vacuum. If we are going to agree on a global practice of sending children across borders and around the world, there has to be more reciprocal agreements between countries that it is not a one-way experience, and that we need to make ways for some back-and-forth between the countries and the people.” 

Rainbow World, a non-profit, owns the distribution rights to the film. The film has been shown at many film festivals since its New York opening, and has won numerous awards, most recently the Youth Jury Award for Best Picture at the Reel 2 Real Youth Film Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, held April 4 through 11. 

The film is produced by Laurent Boileau, and created and directed by Jung Henin, a Korean adoptee who was brought up by a family in Belgium, and is now a well-known graphic novelist in Europe. The film has been shown in many different countries. 

Voices of Adoption archive 

In April, 16 people connected with the emergence of Minnesota’s Korean adoptee community were recorded in the first phase of a Korean adoptee community oral history project its creator wants to develop as a source of educational content, both locally and nationally. 

The project, called Voices of Adoption, included founders of possibly the earliest organization of Korean adoptees, the Minnesota Adopted Koreans (MAK) Thomas Park and John Oja; founders of Korean Institute of Minnesota Yoonju and Sung Chul Park; Ami Nafzger, Minnesotan Korean adoptee who founded the Global Overseas Adoptees Link (GOA’L) in Seoul in 1996 and the Minnesota  adoptee resource organization AdopSource; and Hyun Sook Han, the first social worker for the Korean international adoption program with Children’s Home Society. 

Among others, the archive will also feature Karen Hodge, who was placed for international adoption as a teen, grew up in Minnesota, and later reunited with and developed a social group for other Amerasian adoptees who came to Minnesota as teenagers; and Brooke Newmaster, a Korean adoptee who has led the Jang-mi Korean Dance and Drum group since 1997 (see related story on Jang-mi’s 30th anniversary, cover of second section). 

In developing the project in the future, Arndt-Johns said she would like to include the voices of immigrant Korean Minnesotans who helped develop services and organizations to partner with Korean adoptees and their families, and even birth families whose children grew up in Minnesota. 

The Voices of Adoption project is a collaboration of the non-profit Rainbow World, an organization which develops educational media content on the topic of international adoption; Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) and is funded through a state grant for arts and cultural heritage projects which is administered by the Minnesota Historical Society. Tom Trow, documentary filmmaker with TPT is directing the project.

Arndt-Johns said in developing the model for the project, she closely studied Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Project, which documents in video the experiences of Holocaust survivors, and its Shoah Foundation at University of Southern California, which promotes teaching and learning history through personal testimony.

Rainbow World will apply for more funding to add to the archive on Minnesota, with the goal of documenting the leadership of the adopted Korean community in key geographic areas nationally and internationally.  Like the Shoah Project, the Voices of Adoption Archive (working title) will also require many partners to create the level of content Arndt-Johns envisions for the full archive. 

Save the date for IKAA convention 

The conference of the International Korean Adoptee Association (IKAA) will be held October 16 through 19 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

IKAA is an organization comprised of associations of adult Korean adoptees from many countries.  The first international gathering of adult adoptees was held in 1999, and the first gathering as IKAA was held in 2007 in Seoul. 

More information will be posted closer to the date on the upcoming Amsterdam conference at the website: or on the IKAA Facebook page. 

Boston Korean Adoptees convention set 

Registration is now for the conference of the Boston Korean Adoptees to be held at the historic Omni Parker Hotel in downtown Boston, from August 14 to 17. 

The BK Adoptees is a Boston area organization committed to building the community of adult Korean Adoptees in the New England area. 

Conference rate is $150 (April 16 to July 15). After July 15, the rate is $200.    For registration and convention information, see the website:

MPAK to hold annual picnic

The Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea (MPAK) will hold its 15th Annual MPAK Picnic, for members as well as non-members and guests, on May 24.

The annual outdoor celebration will be held 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Clark Regional Park in Buena Park, California.  It is intended to unite MPAK families located in Los Angeles, the Valley areas, Orange County and San Diego. 

Picnickers are encouraged to either bring something on the “sign up to bring something” list on the MPAK website, or to just bring a favorite dish to share buffet style.  The picnic will be kid-friendly and include a giant Moonbounce, games, a clown and magic show, as well as lots of playground space. 

MPAK works on behalf of homeless children in Korea by:  Advocating for their needs; working to remove the negative social stigma associated with homeless children and adoptees; enabling Koreans to overcome their fear of adoption; and encouraging the Korean society to accept adoption as a worthy and acceptable way to build a family. 

MPAK founder Steve Morrison maintains a blog at http://mpakusa. and can be reached at  See the website for more information on the picnic, at:

GOA’L announces  new secretary general

Nicholaj Leschly will take over the secretary general position for the Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link (GOA’L) immediately, according to a January 20 announcement.  Leschly is a long-time resident of South Korea, and is a Korean adoptee.  He was adopted to a family in Denmark, but grew up in Los Angeles starting at age two.

Leschly holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Sonoma State University, California. He has lived in Korea since 2003, and is fluent in Korean. He has lived in Busan and Seoul.


Through GOA’L, he was awarded a scholarship under the National Institute of International Education (NIIED) in 2010.  He graduated from Sogang University’s Korean Language Institute in 2011 and received a Master’s Degree in International Finance from their Graduate School of International Studies in 2013. 

Leschly has worked for GOA’L on its projects for many years and has participated in many G.O.A.’L sponsored events and activities.  He was  the project manager for the 2010 Annual Birth Family Search Campaign, which was held in four cities and was one of the most ambitious search campaigns to date.

GOA’Ls services for Korean adoptees include birth family search assistance, F4 and dual-citizenship applications, mental health services, and post-reunion services, among others.  Its Seoul address is:  5th Floor, Seogyo-dong 363-20, Mapo-gu, Seoul 121-837, Republic of Korea, and phone (from the U.S.) is:  82-2-325-6585. The website is: 

Sejong Society holds writing competition

The Sejong Cultural society will hold its annual writing competition, with entries due by midnight January 31.  

The competition is in collaboration with the Korea Institute at Harvard University, and is open to all pre-college students in the U.S. and Canada, regardless of ethnic background. 

The essay contest is based on criticism of Korean literature in translation and Korean folk tales.  The competition is divided into three divisions:  young adult (age 25 and younger); senior division (ninth through 12th grade); and junior division (eighth grade and younger).  Full writing prompts are available at the website. Winners receive cash prizes: $1,000 for young adult division; $500 senior; and $300 junior.

The sijo (Korean poetry form) division is available to grade 12 or younger, and coaching on how to write Korean sijo is on the website:  Any questions can be sent to

Happy 100 to Susan Ahn Cuddy 

A public 100th birthday celebration was recently held for Susan Ahn Cuddy, a pioneering Korean American, near her home in Los Angeles, through the Korean American Coalition of Los Angeles (KACLA).  

Cuddy is a celebrated figure in the national Korean American community.  She is known for her personal  achievements as a woman and as a second generation Korean American, and she also comes from a distinguished and historically important family. 

In her life, Cuddy broke many barriers as a woman and as an Asian American, becoming a military officer and then chief of a department in military intelligence.  She became the U.S. Navy’s first Asian American woman member, and later earned the rank of full lieutenant while serving the U.S. Navy.  She was the first Asian female LINK training instructor for U.S. Navy pilots during World War II, and was also the Navy’s first female gunnery officer and the first Asian woman in U.S. naval intelligence.

She later became the first liaison at the Library of Congress for naval intelligence, which served as the precursor the National Security Agency. She went on to serve her country as a highly distinguished code breaker, eventually becoming a department chief in the Central Reference Section, supervising over 300 scholars and experts on the USSR.  She married Frank Cuddy, who worked with her in the same department and was a fluent Japanese speaker.  

Cuddy’s parents were Hye Ryeon Yi (also known as Helen Ahn) and her father was Chang Ho Ahn (also known by his literary nickname Dosan Ahn Chang Ho).  They were the first married couple to come to the U.S. from Korea in 1902, just prior to the Japanese colonial takeover of Korea, which began officially in 1910.  

Chang Ho Ahn dedicated his life to both fighting for the freedom of Korea as a nation, and organizing Korean immigrants to the U.S. to help them make a home here.  He was imprisoned six times in Korea for his leadership of the Korean Independence Movement, and died in 1938.  He received many posthumous awards for human rights leadership.  In 2012, Chang Ho Ahn was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia.  

As the family established themselves, the Ahn house became a haven for many Korean immigrants. The Young Korean Academy (Hung Sa Dan), an immigrant organization, made its headquarters at the Ahn’s residence as a resource center.  Many exiled Korean patriots, including Chae Pil Soh, the first Korean American citizen, visited the Ahns while they lived at 106 North Figueroa during the Japanese occupation of Korea.  

In 2003, the State Assembly of California of District 28 named Cuddy the Woman of the Year in honor of her commitment to public service.  In 2006, she received the American Courage Award from the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, D.C.  Susan Ahn Cuddy is celebrated as one of the most foremost inspirational Korean American pioneers and as an influential leader to today’s community leaders.  More information is available on Susan Ahn Cuddy’s life at the website:

Serve the People exhibit set 

A multimedia exhibit, Serve the People: the Asian American Movement in New York, will be shown in New York through February 23.  The exhibit charts a history of Asian American activism, organizing, and cultural production in the 1970s, and is located at the Interference Archive in Brooklyn.  For more information, contact

North Carolina’s Korean War Memorial dedicated 

By Rev. R. Carter Blaisdell

A new war memorial in North Carolina honors the 789 North Carolinians who were killed and missing in action during the Korean War (1950-1953), and all Korean War veterans who served. 

The North Carolina Korean War Memorial was dedicated Saturday, November 9, 2013 in Mint Hill, a suburb of Charlotte.  Mint Hill’s Mayor, Ted H. Biggers, Jr., told the 600 attendees “This memorial provides a regular draw for thousands of people who come to pay their respect to the veterans of this ‘forgotten war.’”  

The memorial was an eight-year project of Chapter 265 of the North Carolina Korean War Veterans Association.  The $500,000 raised for the construction came from individuals, companies, the town of Mint Hill, the Korean American Association, the State of North Carolina and the Republic of Korea. 

The Republic of Korea was represented by Consul General He Beom Kim, Atlanta, Georgia who brought greetings from his government, which donated $56,000 for the project.  The ceremony included the South Korean national anthem and prayers in Korean and English.

The memorial’s architect, Kent Goolsby, is a Vietnam Veteran and recipient of the Silver Star,  and has designed memorials in other states. The structure is encircled with a 188-foot double wall planter with dwarf hollies.  In the center is an eternal fountain in the shape of the taegeuk, the swirled blue and red circle design in the center of the South Korean flag.  

The park has been renamed the Mint Hill Veterans Park, and the memorial will be open year round.  The park is located at the intersection of Highway 218 (exit 44) off of I-485 near Charlotte.  The Korean War veterans are now in their late 70s or 80s.  

The writer, Rev. R. Carter Blaisdell,  is the son of Korean War veteran Chaplain (Col.) Russell L. Blaisdell (1910-2007), who was 5th Air Force staff chaplain during the Korean War, 1950-1951. Chaplain Blaisdell is remembered for helping save over 1,000 orphans from the streets of Seoul in the fall and winter of 1950.  See