NETWORK OF ENTERTAINING ASIAN AMERICAN TALENT
Su-in, right, and her adoptive mother Kim Gyeong-hui, peruse newspapers
to find information on college admissions. By Oh Jong-chan
Su-in, 19, is like any other student at Chonnam Girls High School in
Gwangju, South Jeolla, except for one thing – her appearance.
Korea’s ethnically homogenous society, with her fair skin, high nose,
deep double eyelids, brown eyes, long eyelashes and light-brown hair,
this Russian teen certainly looks foreign in appearance, yet speaks
Korean just as fluently as her classmates.
Jang was born to a
Russian family and named Nastya Baskaeva, but since being adopted into
a Korean family seven years ago, she has lived in Korea.
of six siblings, Jang grew up with her birth parents in the remote
village of Mosdok in southern Russia, so remote it takes a two-hour
flight and then a two-hour drive to reach from Moscow. Due to the
family’s poverty and with her father too old to work, Jang was not able
to go to school
In February 2001, Korean couple Jang
Byung-jeong, 56, and Kim Kyung-hee, 53, were visiting a local Mosdok
church. After meeting the young Russian, they decided to take her back
with them to Korea, where they believed she could receive a better
education, and adopted her as their daughter.
Korea, the 12-year-old Jang quickly picked up the Korean language and
in less than six months could enter the sixth grade.
the culture shock and initial language difficulties, Jang had to go the
extra mile to keep up with her classes. Adding to the shock was the
fact it was her first time in a formal school setting.
Now seven years on, Jang is a senior in high school and recently took the college entrance examination.
has aspirations to be a Korean-Russian interpreter in the future so
that she can serve the country of her birth and her new home. She hopes
to major in Russian at university.
Jang’s Korean parents,
although well-off when they adopted her, have suffered financial
difficulties since lending money to an acquaintance a few years ago.
Her father now drives a taxi for a living. When her mother once ran a
small restaurant, Jang always helped her on the weekends.
is such a good kid, with the sense to practice economy with her
allowance and rarely asking for more spending money,” her mother Kim
said. “It was heartbreaking to hear her say one day that she couldn’t
ask for things she wanted lest she worry us.
“I’m just so proud
that she has grown up so well, while I feel sorry that we couldn’t
fully provide her with what she would’ve needed,” she added.
keeping with her good sense, Jang hopes she can be admitted to a
national university with relatively low tuition fees, so as not to be a
burden on her parents.
She once even considered going back to
Russia, where tuition fees are lower than Korea. But later, after
thinking it over with her Korean parents, she decided it would be her
birth parents’ wish to see her study in Korea and become a successful
Korean-Russian interpreter. After all, they had sent her here despite
the sadness of separation in order for her to live a better life.
“One day I will have both my Russian and Korean parents with me when I grow up and I will be ready to support them,” Jang said.
By Lee Hae-suck JoongAng Ilbo [firstname.lastname@example.org]