Pop Culture & Society
Happy endings: An adoption story
by | March 5, 2009 | 31 Comments


Adoptee Soo-hoon (Sonny) with actor Lee Wan

Mea culpa.

I admit I’ve looked upon celebrity involvement in charity promotion and public campaigns with a skeptical eye, as I did in the original post featuring Lee Wan, above, who participated (along with Kim Rae-won and Lee Junki) in a campaign to raise awareness for the adoption of disabled children.

Well, I got an email this morning informing me that Soo-hoon, aka Sonny, pictured above with Lee Wan, was recently adopted into a loving family last month. The 13-year-old Sonny has Down Syndrome and grew up under the care of Holt International, and is now a happy resident in Iowa. Jake Krob, Sonny’s proud adoptive father, wrote up his adoption experience for an Iowa paper, which gives a moving account of the way Sonny came to be a member of the family. (If you don’t tear up, you can’t have a heart!)

When we’re talking stars who promote charitable organizations, you’ll inevitably get a segment of people scoffing that it’s all for self-promotion and image-conscious career calculation — like netizens backlashing against “donation angel” Moon Geun-young, or criticizing Choi Kang-hee‘s bone marrow donation as a PR stunt. But you know what? If a raised profile — no matter the motive — in any way helps to complete a happy family as in Sonny’s case, well, the rest of the bad stuff just falls away.

So, yes: snark reflex has been duly checked and noted.

Also: Anyone have a shortcut to Lee Wan’s management or PR team? I was able to pass along the general contact info for his management company (Logos Film), but if anyone’s got a better way to get in touch, please let me (and Jake) know!

Via Mt. Vernon Lisbon Sun

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31 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. marbleloaf

    it’s really a sweet story, thanks for posting this!

  2. sf

    that’s wonderful :)
    And i think you’re right — whatever the motives there is nobody getting hurt by using one’s fame to promote awareness about issues that have to be addressed. If anything, it’s great that everybody wins. Why does a anyone (the celebrity included) have to be hurt just to prove a point?

    In any case, I hope this successful adoption stories like this encourage others and Koreans especially since this campaign is Korea based, to realize kids don’t have to be biological to be just as loving – including kids w/ Down Syndrome etc.

    This news is especially hopeful to me as I feel like Korea still has a ways to go with accepting and integrating kids w/ Down syndrome into every day society; for certain, there is still a stigma about having kids who are not “normal.” This is a great step in that direction.

  3. Alvina

    What’s funny about this is I was ~just~ thinking about Lee Wan this morning; I was listening to the song he acted in the MV for (It’s a song by Position) and was CRYING so much :(

    I’m happy that Sonny was adopted; there’s a lot of children in this world who need a loving family… I’m glad ^_^

  4. ___

    Aww.. that was such a touching story. Thank you for posting it.

  5. LivinginSeoul

    I think that on the surface this does seem like a sweet story, but I think the wider problem of Korean international adoption needs to be addressed as well. Since Holt ran this campaign in Korea, it seems like they are trying to bring awareness to the Korean population and make them responsible for their own children. In a country that can produce such popular dramas to “sell” this own children off to other countries for the last 50 years is a serious problem that needs to be owned up to by the Korean population. It’s media like this that still perpetuates the ideas in Korean society that it’s okay not to make a change, because people abroad will provide good homes for children. I hope that people will still be conscientious about this when they read this “happy ending” story.

  6. Anonymous

    I don’t think telling one happy ending story is “perpetuating the idea that it’s okay not to make a change.” You have a point, but is this really the way (or place) to suggest that the main reason for campaings to raise awareness is to get Korea to keep adoptions domestic and stop “exporting” their adoptees? Way to piss on a nice story.

  7. Anonymous

    In response to LivinginSeoul’s comment, part of me agrees and part of me disagrees with your statement. To be completely honest, the first thing that i thought after reading the article is that I’m glad that Sonny got adopted, but because of his age and disability it figures that he wouldn’t be adopted locally. There are a lot of Korean people who still regard adoption as abnormal, however a disability even worse. Korea may have advanced in technology but not a whole lot of progress has been made in society. Sure young people are more open about people of different races sexuality, teenage pregnancies, and accepting female children but what about the older generation? I live here in Seoul and everyday i experience some form of intolerance or something that socially goes against my American values.

    Taking all that into consideration, how much can a country change in the span of 20 years? Is it right to judge another country based on the standards set by one’s home country? Think about how long it took American’s to accept social changes. The civil rights movement was at its peak less than 60 years ago and that’s coming from a country that was built around people who had controversial values. It took over two centuries to develop social tolerance and acceptance. Comparatively, Korea’s been around for a long time, but the radical social values that we want to superimpose over the country, the changes that have spanned centuries are extremely unlikely to be made in the 60 years since the Korean War and American occupation, which exposed the nation to these radical views. I think about the 26 years since I’ve been a product of the baby trade and have to think that Korea has come pretty far.

    So yes, maybe Korea’s not to the point where people will openly adopt children but the attempts at changing the importance of long-instilled familial blood ties are underway. Korea is afterall the most Confucian country in the world and you can’t expect such deeply rooted cultural values to change overnight. Furthermore, who cares who’s done the adopting as long as the child goes to a loving family? So to quote Anonymous post #6, “Way to piss on a ice story.”

  8. Bisquit

    So happy for Sonny~ ^^

  9. lina

    funny how in your last post about Lee Wan and Soo Hoon, you said that Soo Hoon is 14 years old and in this one he’s 13 years old.

  10. 10 YGfangirl

    this is really cute…if anyone is interested in watching Sonny meeting his adoptive parents..heres the youtube link

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFrfJ5v47SU

  11. 11 javabeans

    lina, in the original post the Korean article gave his Korean age. The second one was American age.

  12. 12 djes

    thank you for sharing this!
    I took this for my note ~ http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=80813258032&id=688923938&index=0

    THANK YOU Javabeans!

  13. 13 pandafighting

    oohh this is soo touching… *still crying now….

    I have a brother with down syndrome, he’ll be 28 next april. Eventhough we’re so close and i love him so much, i don’t really know what exactly on his mind or what he feels, i hope i can understand him more..

    I hope to see people with down syndrome like my brother & Sonny to be happy and being loved.

    thank you for sharing this…
    *still crying…

  14. 14 ktbrods

    Thanks for the great post (and the link to the article)!

  15. 15 nixxochick

    thank you for sharing such a touching and wonderful story…hopefully more and more people that are able to adopt will do so.

    in regards to post #7
    i dont think the U.S. has entirely developed social tolerance and acceptance..it is nice to think that they have but the truth is we are still lacking in that area

  16. 16 Jill

    It’s a sweet happy ending..and i’m happy for Sonny. Still i think Koreans should be more open and adopt their own orphans..i agree with Anonymous.

  17. 17 Amy

    that is really sweet!! Very touching. Thank you for sharing this.

  18. 18 kitkatkitty

    aw man… i’m at work! and i’m bawling my eyes out!

  19. 19 Anonymous

    Nixxochic, you’re absolutely correct. I meant that people are more tolerant comparatively. Americans are definitely still not there yet.

  20. 20 giddygirl108

    Wow…I’m speechless…I don’t even know what to say! The story is truly moving and I am so happy and glad that the couple decided to adopt a teenager with Down Syndrome. That is really saying something about the dynamics of their family. Cheers!

  21. 21 Kellie

    Just as you said, I teared up. Big-time. Beautiful story, told in a terse, beautiful way by the father. Thanks for this!

  22. 22 blkrose

    SIGH…….. Thanks. There are times when one hears or reads something that is so heartwarming that it stays with you all day. Much love.

  23. 23 hmmmm

    reading what his dad posted moved me. I’m happy that he’s found a home witha loving family in Iowa. God bless them.

  24. 24 b020

    Sunny has a home and a family – that was the goal of the campaign and it succeeded.

  25. 25 m

    happy for sonny/soo-hoon and his new family! best wishes to them.

  26. 26 julier

    God bless Sonny and his new family. Thanks javabeans for the update :)

  27. 27 ohyehbb

    I agree that whether or not celebrities are involved with these campaigns and charitable acts for self-promotions, at least they’re shedding some light on something. People are so quick to criticize celebrities by saying these are just merely PR stunts, but if they is, so what? I mean, it would be way better if they weren’t, but it beats sitting on your ass all day criticizing someone for doing something good.

    Anyway, I so cried, especially when I found the videos on youtube that was mentioned in the account: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnIra4mX74c & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFrfJ5v47SU Oh man, I don’t even know what to say. I’m still crying.

  28. 28 Emma

    I’m adopted and korean so I found this story was very interesting to me.
    Thanks for posting!

  29. 29 dekyi

    hi how are u?

  30. 30 Zena

    Nice that celebrities there are spreading awareness of issues like this but why don’t they adopt themselves? That would do more than any of these types of events. But, you never see that. Sad.

  31. 31 Ruben

    Awww found the youtube vid of the photo shoot
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGZrEzPneTg

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