I’m not a process-oriented person. I like results and I like to get there the fast way. When hand-stamping 200,000 price tags, however, each with a different number, there is no fast way.

The Walk of Shame (see posts below) has got me in a funk, frankly. It takes only one second to stamp a tag, but it takes a lot longer to prepare the paperwork to send a kid for adoption. Yet even just stamping is a lot of work! I’ve done about 1,000 tonight (because I was too tired to use my brain anyway) and what I have done compared to the huge pile underneath my desk, by the copier, on top of my desk, in my kitchen, and at KoRoot does not even start to make an appreciable dent.

So the process is teaching me something. It’s teaching me what 200,000 means. Before, it was just a number. Now I have stamped  1,000 tags and 200,000 seems like a lot bigger number than it was before. It seems like infinity. An infinity of children sent overseas for adoption.

While stamping all these tags, I figured out that it’s easier if I separate them like shuffling Go-stop cards and stack them like solitaire. It seemed to say something about the luck of the draw.

People have been sending in their mugshots for the art exhibit. I have them organized on my computer. By number. It seemed to just be practical when dealing with so many pictures. A number on each photo, and a separate sheet recording their names. It seemed like the logical thing to do, to take away their names and assign them a number, when dealing with so many.

I did an interview for CNN today. She asked me about my sister. I said my sister was sent to America at the age of 4 1/2 and she did not speak for 6 or 9 months and there was no one she could talk to during that time.  I am sure she had never been so alone.  I said at the time we were sent for adoption, Northwest Airlines was on strike, and a girl who remembered that flight said that the kids were so scared they hid in the bathrooms during those long layovers.

I went upstairs in my office after that interview and cried.

When I’m stamping sometimes the numbers get smudgy or I stamp the wrong number, or something is illegible. I just cross it out and do it again. Or things get shuffled around. I just cram it back in stack. This is the problem of confusion when you are dealing with mass production.

I wish it was every member of the Korean parliament — not me and a bunch of adoptees and unwed mothers — doing this tedious work. I think they would be forever changed, as I am.

At least I hope that they will spend some time to stamp or hang at least 100 tags. The process of doing it is profound. Thank you Suki aka Leanne for masterminding this.

We need help so please see the posts below.

Also, if you’re at KoRoot tomorrow from 7:00 p.m. we will be stamping, and also June 7 Monday at 7:00 at KoRoot.

People who cannot come, please send your mugshot to or a monetary donation to help cover our $4,000 project to

Thank you.

–Jane Jeong Trenka

sketches by Leanne Leith aka Suki

About jjtrenka
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