Birth Mothers and Transnational Adoption Practice in South Korea

Virtual Mothering

  • Hosu Kim

Part of the Critical Studies in Gender, Sexuality, and Culture book series (CSGSC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Unbecoming Mothers: A History of Gendered Violence

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 33-33
  3. Reconnection: Virtual Mothering

  4. Back Matter
    Pages 225-245

About this book


This book illuminates the hidden history of South Korean birth mothers involved in the 60-year-long practice of transnational adoption. The author presents a performance-based ethnography of maternity homes, a television search show, an internet forum, and an oral history collection to develop the concept of virtual mothering, a theoretical framework in which the birth mothers' experiences of separating from, and then reconnecting with, the child, as well as their painful,ambivalent narratives of adoption losses, are rendered, felt and registered. In this, the author refuses a universal notion of motherhood. Her critique of transnational adoption and its relentless effects on birth mothers’ lives points to the everyday, normalized, gendered violence against working-class, poor, single mothers in South Korea’s modern nation-state development and illuminates the biopolitical functions of transnational adoption in managing an "excess" population. Simultaneously, her creative analysis reveals a counter-public, and counter-history, proposing the collective grievances of birth mothers.


single mothers adoption kinship population policy maternity homes oral history biopolitics

Authors and affiliations

  • Hosu Kim
    • 1
  1. 1.City University of New York College of Staten IslandStaten IslandUSA

Bibliographic information