FOR THE WORLD’S MORE FULL OF WEEPING:
RETROACTIVELY ABOLISHING SOUTH KOREA’S CIVIL AND CRIMINAL STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS FOR ILLEGAL INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION
by Daniel A. Edelson
In the decades following the Korean War, South Korea may have sent up to 200,000 children overseas for adoption. Some adoptees, well after becoming adults, suspect that their adoption may have been illegal and wish to pursue civil litigation in the South Korean courts against the adoption agencies and the South Korean government. Others also want the South Korean government to prosecute criminally those they believe were responsible for orchestrating their adoptions.
But rigid application of South Korea‟s statutes of limitation precludes both civil and criminal cases in connection with international adoptions. This Article proposes, based on principles from other jurisdictions and South Korean precedent, that the South Korean courts and its National Assembly should provide an exception so that illegal international adoption cases can proceed on their merits. In the alternative, the Article proposes that South Korea should establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to conduct a thorough examination of the process that sent so many children abroad.
The Article concludes that South Korea should not dismiss as untimely claims that the state and the adoption agencies engaged in illegal practices. Whether through the courts or through a neutral truth finding commission, allegations in connection with international adoptions deserve a serious and meaningful response.