A photo exhibit to encourage domestic adoptions in South Korea

Photos by Jo Se Hyun via KoreanVibe.com
I'm not sure if I think THIS is great, or incredibly sad.

An annual photo exhibit titled "The 8th Letter of Angels - Happiness" is set to open in Seoul Korea.

A Korean photographer, Jo Se Hyun, shot some beautiful portraits of babies awaiting adoption posed with celebrities.

It's an annual photo exhibition, produced jointly with the Social Welfare Society. The aim is to encourage adoption domestically in South Korea.

The Korean government has been strongly encouraging adoption, but it's been a challenge. There are many misconceptions and prejudices toward adoption, and the government is struggling to combat these. There is also a strong cultural importance on blood and family name. Many Koreans who have adopted keep it a secret, fearing social stigma if the adoption is known, for their family and their children.

So for those reason, I think this is sort of a cool idea. Showing that these babies are beautiful and adorable, and deserve a family.

But viewing it with my American eyes, this feels too commercial. We are used to seeing celebrities "sell" ideas, but more often we see them sell merchandise. This feels like very slick merchandising.

(See, these stars think these babies are very cute and fun, and you will too!)

I realize that we cannot ever fully understand another culture, and I'm trying hard to remember that I'm viewing this through my USA filter. But it still feels a bit weird.

Korean society does put a lot of emphasis on fitting in and doing what others do. Perhaps exhibits like this will positively influence others in the country. There has been an increase in domestic adoptions in recent years, so perhaps it's working.

Either way, there is no denying that these babies are gorgeous!


  1. I had the same initial reaction as you, feeling it was a bit offensive to see celebs used to make these babies more "marketable".

    I think, though, its not so much about making people want a cute & adorable baby, but about speaking out against the stigma of adoption. Sort of how US celebrities speak on behalf of various charities or tape anti-bullying public service announcements.

  2. Yes, I think you bring up a great point Kristen!

  3. Interesting. When we were there in February, SWS and its guest house are full of adorable posters of babies and adults. I bet that this was the previous round of celeb pics. That explains a lot!

    This may sound strange to you, but now I want to go through them and see if I can find my daughter.

    Who knows, you may be looking at a picture of your son on that article. Odd, I know, but it's amazing how much a picture is worth before you get the real thing.

  4. I so wish they would help mothers raise their children and work to change society's view of single mothers. The need for adoption will never go away, but it would be so wonderful if less babies were placed for adoption, domestic or international.


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