Status of G.O.A.'L IT

Status of G.O.A.'L IT

A brief introduction

I first visited Korea in the winter of 2005. Through a random Google search I ended up at KoRoot, because it was cheap and because it was for adoptees.
Through the adoptees I met there, I got introduced to G.O.A.'L and became a member. I stayed in Korea for about a month, enjoying a freezing cold December.
Both in 2007 and 2008 I'd return for several months to experience more of the atmosphere.
I finally moved to Korea in 2010. It was an easy choice, really, in my mind it was only a matter of when and for how long I'd go, since that first visit had set me on a course that I knew I had to go down. I didn't know how long it would take to get to my destination, but I knew it was the right path. I lived at KoRoot for a long time and started volunteering at the G.O.A.'L Office on a regular basis.
I ended up staying in Korea for 5 years, working at the office for most of that time, primarily taking care of IT, taking community pictures and of course assisting during First Trip Home, guiding newly arrived adoptees through Korea in general and the birth family search process in particular, along with all the different amazing colleagues I've had over the years, adoptees and Koreans alike.
When I finally had to go back to Denmark, I left a lot of dear friends, family and unforgetable memories.
I was flat broke and moved right into my parents' basement, but was lucky to find a job after a few months.
During the following 4 years, I'd work diligently to save up all that I could to first get out of the basement and finally get a mortgage - and then take a long vacation every year to go back to Korea and help out with First Trip Home. Whenever I'd come back it felt like I would go right back to my old life - and it always felt like I was too short on time when leaving.
Now in 2019, after saving up for more than 3 years, I've now been able to enjoy the privilege to return to Korea for a little while, most likely for a year, to tie up some loose ends at the office that have been somewhat neglected since I had my daily routine here back in 2013.

IT at G.O.A.'L

I arrived here in July and the main priorities in terms of IT was getting a few basic things to work at the office, before we got super busy during the 2019 IKAA Gathering and especially during First Trip Home 2019.
Basic networking had to be checked so all computers could access our server as well as our printers - let alone the WeWork printers.
All the computers needed a uniform setup through upgrades to Windows 10, GPO, common admin accounts, remote support options and of course properly licensed programs.
We virtualized our server infrastructure in 2016 and 2017 and needed to finish some of the procedures, as well as consolidating storage space. We also needed to do a basic security overhaul, since the threat landscape has changed drastically since 2010 when I started working at the office, especially after the rise of ransomware.
We needed to determine to what level we could leverage cloud technology and to what degree it was economically feasible. Since 2011 we've used Google Apps (now Google Suite). For starters we've also moved our DNS to CloudFlare.
We're currently looking at how to realistically scale our backups given the amount of data we have and the general cost of storage.

So what do I hope to get done before the summer of 2020?

All of the above steps were necessary in order to get to the goal of overhauling our website. On the frontend we've used Drupal for a long time, principally because of the flexibility and very smooth interaction with our CRM, CiviCRM. Of course, this has the added challenge that whatever changes we make, have to go hand in hand with CiviCRM in order to not further complicate the day to day work for our staff who actually carry out our core services. Thus, we want to preserve data integrity and link as much data as we can to your existing profile, to avoid duplicate data in different systems.
We obviously are very interested in getting help from you in the community at large and over time we've thankfully had people who graciously offered to lend a hand. But we also need to make sure that the help we get is from people who understand the constraints and the challenges of the current situation, and most of all, who can either deliver solutions that over time don't add to the overall maintenance workload or TCO. This includes either delivering things that fit seamlessly with existing systems or a commitment to help sustain the system through deployment and well into the overall lifecycle.
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact me at [email protected].

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Subtle Asian Traits

Subtle Asian Traits

“Subtle Asian Traits” is a Facebook group made up of over 1.4 million members. The group was originally created by a group of Asian high school and university students living in Australia who started sharing memes (funny images) about their experiences growing up in Asian-immigrant households. The topics range from the culture-clashes associated with being Asian in a foreign country, disputes with parents, and a shared love of K-BBQ and bubble tea.

The group allows any of its members to post relatable and amusing memes, and despite its humorous beginnings, it has also become a type of virtual safe space for Asians, created entirely by Asians. People have started to move away from only funny pictures and have started to share personal stories, ranging from dating experiences to heartfelt, honest stories about abuse and illnesses. Because of the highly relatable content, the group has become international, reaching Asians all over the globe.

This group has also played a small, but still significant, role in connecting Korean adoptees, some of whom had joined and decided to post and speak up. One adoptee posted:

I’m adopted from South Korea. Lived in the United States my whole life. I have never gone back to Korea or met my biological parents. I want to plan a trip to Korea and try to find them this summer. Is this a good or bad idea? Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated!”

The post got over 700 likes and nearly 300 comments, with people reaching out by offering advice or giving words of encouragement. Several other adoptees shared their own experiences with racism, growing up with a non-Asian family, and the search for their identity. International Asian adoptees have even created their own Facebook group called “Subtle Asian Adoptee Traits” to share their own memes and stories. The group is private and adoptees only, to make sure the space is kept secure and safe for adoptees.

As the original “Subtle Asian Traits” group has gotten larger, spin-offs have popped up all over social media including “Subtle Asian Dating”; a group where people post pictures and descriptions about themselves or their friends who are looking for some romance. This group, commonly referred to, almost ironically, as SAD, is bursting with dating and relationship related memes.  Other groups include “Subtle Asian Fitness”, “Subtle Asian Makeup/Beauty Squad”, “Subtle Asian Mental Health”, and many more.

One reason for the groups’ popularity stems from the fact that people don’t have to explain the joke punchlines, since everyone else in the group shares a similar background. This sense of shared understanding is especially appealing since it is often difficult to explain every single detail of Asian culture to non-Asian friends. Sometimes, all a person wants is for someone to just get it.

Recently, the group has been encouraging people to share more about their Asian culture with non-Asian friends. Having a supportive Asian community at their backs, virtual or otherwise, people have started to become proud of their culture and are opening up more to the idea and practice of discussing and embracing their culture.

The practice of creating a community, regardless of whether the community is for sharing jokes or serious topics, is very powerful, and there is no reason to believe these groups will diminish over time either. Rather, these groups will likely continue to evolve and grow by welcoming even more into the community.

Here are the links to the Facebook groups if you want to check them out!

“Subtle asian traits”: 

“Subtle asian dating” : 

“Subtle asian adoptee traits”: 

Author: Eva Kim

Editor: Leanna French

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Book Introduction: TO SAVE THE CHILDREN OF KOREA: The Cold War Origins of International Adoption


Arissa Oh is a professor at Boston College whose study is concentrated in immigration, race, gender, the role of family in U.S. history, and transnational Asian-American history. Her book TO SAVE THE CHILDREN OF KOREA: The Cold War Origins of International Adoption was published in 2015 in the United States. In the way that it carefully explains and outlines the history of international adoption, it is the first and only book available that delves so deeply into the topic of Korea’s transnational adoption phenomenon. Since 1953, over 200,000 children from Korea have been sent for adoption abroad, with more than approximately 110,000 adopted to the United States. This book cogently and honestly details out the history of international adoption that has previously been unknown to Korean society.

The first section of the book is on the historical condition that spiraled adoption, such as children being adopted as “mascots” by American soldiers and mixed-race babies born between Korean women and American soldiers. Then the book moves on to systematic adoption and the missions of Harry and Bertha Holt as well as the role of Christianity and American patriotism in the adoption process. The final section outlines how international adoption was a safety net for South Korea and the process of how adoption eventually turned into an international industry. Her work contributes to understanding a myriad of different topics such as the influence of the Cold War, the history and consequences of race in America, social work policies in Korea, etc.

This acknowledged work was translated and published in Korea, with the title “왜 그 아이들은 한국을 떠나지 않을 수 없었나.” The translation was aided by a student-led club in Hanyoung Foreign Language High School called 세빛또래, partnered up with KOROOT, an organization that also aids international adoptees returning to Korea, to provide the most accurate translation of the original work1.

The cover of the published book was motivated by the work of Amanda Eunha Lovell, an international adoptee currently living in Korea, called “Sung Myung: Your Name here (성명, 여기에다 이름을 쓰세요).” In Buddhist art, one image is copied over and over again, similar to how the same prayer is repeated. In this case, the image of a child with a halo and a nametag is pasted throughout the cover.  Through the cover image and her writing, Oh sends out prayers for the 200,000 Korean international adoptees2

In the introduction of the Korean version, Oh writes that she believes it is important for both Koreans and Americans to understand how and why international adoption started in Korea over 70 years ago and how international adoption has influenced current-day Korean and American society. She raises the importance of thinking about what it means to be Korean, who can be considered Korean, and why the answers to these questions are important. Oh hopes that her writing acts as a catalyst for the readers to start asking and thinking about these questions themselves3


Written by: Eva Kim
Edited by: Leanna French


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Differences to Expect in the Streets of Korea

Differences to Expect in the Streets of Korea

During a first visit to Korea, there are so many things to see and plan and visit that it can get a little bit overwhelming. There are dozens of blog posts and YouTube videos about first experiences traveling in Korea, with many of them giving helpful tips on how to maneuver through different cultural differences. At GOA'L, we thought it would be fun to come up with our own list of things that a visitor might see during their time in Korea and share the best way on maneuvering .

  1. Strangers hand you leaflets all the time

In all the major cities, you will encounter teenagers and even older trying to give leaflets to pedestrians. Sometimes these workers even wear costumes to catch people’s attention. This is one of the most common forms of advertisement in Korea. Many people take on the part-time job of handing these leaflets out getting paid only after handing out the set quota of leaflets per day.

During the approximately 6 minute walk from the closest subway station exit to the G.O.A.’L office, one will usually end up with two to three handouts. Although the tactics used by the people handing out flyers can sometimes be slightly aggressive, the leaflets usually provide coupons and sometimes introduce you to fun, new restaurants or a cool VR cafe. It can make it worth taking a look at.

  1. Sales on makeup and skin care products

As you may already know, Korean beauty products are making their way across the world. Korea is now known for its affordable cosmetics and high-quality skincare products. You can find multiple cosmetic stores on every street, ranging from Innisfree or Etude House, two famous domestic make-up brands, to Olive Young, a Korean version of Sephora. There are often workers that stand in front of the stores to promote ongoing sales and inviting people to come in and check out the products. Many places offer 1+1 deals (otherwise known as buy 1 get 1 free) and reduced prices on their high-quality sheet masks, selling a pack of 20 sheet masks for as cheap as 10,000 KRW (USD 8.50/EUR 7.50). The promotions are almost endless, which makes trying a variety of brands that much harder to resist. During your first (or next trip to Korea), find a new favorite or stock up on your go-to(s).

  1. No one really says "excuse me”

실례하겠습니다 (shil-le-ha-ge-sseum-ni-da) is the Korean equivalent of the phrase “excuse me”, however, it’s rare to hear people saying it in public situations, especially to strangers. The Korean phrase for “excuse me” is quite formal, which could be one reason why it is not commonly used, however, another could be that Koreans rarely apologize in general. For instance, if you are standing in a crowded area, and someone needs to get through behind you, they may just silently shove past you. Not saying “excuse me” or “I’m sorry” is the norm and is not considered particularly rude amongst native Koreans. Perhaps because Korea is so crowded that it would be impossible to not accidentally bump into people all throughout the day. Koreans don’t have a word for “bless you” either! For many city dwellers, this is not something that you may already be used to, however, for many of us, this is something new, but it’s simply something that we have to understand as one of those cultural differences.

  1. Wearing masks and carrying mini fans

This past year especially, Korea has been struggling with air pollution and fine dust particles. To combat this air pollution, Koreans started wearing masks to cover their nose and mouth and spent most of their time indoors. However, as the summer approached and the air started to clear up, Koreans did not take those masks off.  Recently, some Koreans have started to wear these masks to cover their faces when not wearing makeup, while others wear masks with interesting designs to make a fashion statement. Most celebrities wear these masks for both these reasons. In many other countries, wearing a mask suggests that you are either sick or easily get sick, but in Korea, a black surgical mask is a fashion statement. There is no need to be startled when you see a group of people walking past you wearing masks!

Another common item you will see in Korea if traveling during the summer is a portable, electronic fan. These fans are a must-have when trying to survive the humid, sticky, and hot weather. As early as May, shops set up an area dedicated specifically to these fans so people can prepare themselves for the incoming heat wave. These fans are also helpful when stuck in a crowded subway. Grabbing one of these fans will not only make your summer in Korea more bearable but also allow you to fit in like a local.

  1. The night life!

The night life might just be one of the best things that Korea has to offer. My German friend was shocked when she visited Korea for the first time, because she did not expect Koreans to be big-time drinkers. She was so fascinated by how much Koreans love to drink and hang out starting in the early evening and ending sometimes late in the morning. Because the nightlife scene is so developed in Korea, there are countless places open 24 hours, including convenience stores, coffeeshops, PC-bangs (computer rooms), jjimjilbangs (Korean spas), restaurants among others. The streets are bright from all the LED banners, and you feel safer even late at night in areas like Hongdae or Gangnam, because there are so many people around you. You can get dinner with your friends, drink at a bar, go clubbing, and then get a full Korean meal afterwards at 5 in the morning, before you take the first bus home.


Author: Eva Kim
Editor: Leanna French

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