Adopted from Russia with love to Korean home
- Adopted from Russia with love to Korean home
Jang Su-in, 19, is like any other student at Chonnam Girls High School
in Gwangju, South Jeolla, except for one thing - her appearance.
In 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
One 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
Arriving in Korea, the 12-year-old Jang quickly picked up the Korean
language and in less than six months could enter the sixth grade.
Battling 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.
Jang 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
“She 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
In 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 [spark0320@...]