m a r k a n d e y a

On Orphanages

Posted by Brian on February 15, 2006

From a Korea Herald article in today’s paper on the Korean orphanage system:

Park Young-sook, who founded the foster care movement in Korea, says Koreans traditionally believe abandoned children “have to be isolated from society” because they are making up for sins committed by previous generations.

“Children who lose a home or parent are paying a debt for their ancestors’ [wrongdoing], so they deserve to be in bad situations- that is the tradition,” said Park, who does not share these views.

Placing abandoned or abused children in institutions has been standard practice since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Hundreds of orphanages were built to accommodate children who lost parents in the conflict.

However, many privately-run institutions reliant on community donations for survival have suffered a lack of adequate funds and chronic staff shortages. This has led to children coming out of orphanages unskilled and overly dependent on welfare.

“In institutions, they’re isolated. They come out to society when they are 19 years old and do not know how to ride buses, they don’t know anything. They tend to expect something from the government, they tend to become reliant on welfare during their lives,” Park said.

Park’s engaging in a bit of self-reflection on the shortcomings of the current system, which is good, but I would suggest he go a bit easier on himself and the system. After all, we’re talking about kids whose parents most likely abandoned them, so yea, they get mighty used to the idea of depending on the generosity of others to survive. That these kids have a roof over their heads, food to eat, and good people taking care of them is more than enough reason to forgive those involved for not always batting .1000.


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