HERE: A Visual History of Adopted Koreans in MN

Move over Garrison Keillor and make way for a true representation of Minnesota’s inhabitants and its increasingly diverse cultural history.

With the launch of “HERE: A Visual History of Adopted Koreans in Minnesota,” there now exists the beginnings of a documented history of the many thousands of Koreans who have been adopted to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. That this visual history begins in Minnesota is fitting, as the Upper Midwestern state is home to one of the highest number of adopted Koreans – per capita – in the world.

A six-year labor of love between photographer Kim Jackson and graphic designer Heewon Lee, “HERE” is an answer to the question of origin for the 13,000-15,000 adopted Koreans who immigrated to Minnesota as children to be raised by people who are not Korean.

HERE is the perfect title for this photographic documentary of our community because geographic locale is an important factor in our story,” wrote Jae Ran Kim in the book’s Foreword. “Adoptees have a unique status. Unlike other groups of immigrants or refugees in Minnesota, we came one by one and were dispersed throughout the state.”

The book is filled with black-and-white portraits, accompanied by short bios and a selection of longer oral histories, that evoke lives filled with movement – emotional, intellectual, socio-political and spiritual journeys – layered by the uniqueness of being adopted.

This is an important book for the Korean American community at large; as much as it is part of Minnesota’s state history, it is part of Korea’s and Korean America’s histories.

There are plans for future books that continue to document and record these unique personal histories. Maybe one of them will document the growing number of adopted Koreans living in Korea, and its name would be “THERE.”