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Lesson 6*: Aftermath of the Korean War: Korean Transnational Adoptions

korean adoptees W.PNG

Korean adoption started in 1953, and today there are upwards of 200,000 Korean Adoptees that have been sent worldwide. At the peak of the adoption exodus, in the mid-1980s, 24 babies left their birth country every day to be taken into the care of foreigners.
                      - Korean Adoptees Ministry Center

korean adoptees WW.PNG

States and metropolitan cities in the world where Korean adoptees adopted.  (Source: Wikipedia)

*This lesson was adapted from the lesson Korean War and the Origins of Korean Transnational Adoptions, by Dr. Susie Woo, Associate Professor, Department of American Studies, California State University Fullerton. 

Lesson Standards

  • History/Social Science Analysis Skills

  • History/Social Science Content Standards

  • ​Common Core Grades 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects


Lesson Features

  • TOPICS: Korean War ending and aftermath, Korean transnational adoptions


  • SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: ​ Research and Comparison/Contrast Essay on Korean Adoptee Experiences​


Lesson Overview

  • Students explore the ending and aftermath of the Korean War. They learn about the history of the Korean War and what war was like from the perspective of Koreans. Students learn about one of the many groups of displaced civilians whose lives were forever changed by the war, Korean children. They learn how Korean children became central to international aid efforts that led to the advent of transnational adoptions.​ They analyze an article from 1953 about a Korean transnational adoptee and consider the broader impacts of Korean transnational adoptions on Koreans and Korean-Americans. Finally, students learn about transnational adoptions from the perspective of Deann Borshay Liem, a Korean adoptee.


Lesson Activities and Assessments

Objectives and Learning Goals

  • Students will be able to understand how the Korean War ended.

  • Students will be able to research primary and secondary sources to analyze the experiences of Korean soldiers, civilians, and children during and after the war. 

  • Students will be able to identify causes and affects of how humanitarian outreach turned into a campaign for Americans to adopt Korean and

  • mixed-race children, and explain how and why such transnational adoptions persist today.

  • Students will be able to connect the historical origins of the Korean War to ongoing transnational adoptions from Korea.

  • Students will be able to describe experiences of Korean transnational adoptees.



  • There are three activities in this lesson. Each requires 55 minutes.

  • The Summative Assessment comparison/contrast essay and web-based research on Korean transnational adoptions requires at least 55 minutes and homework.

Additional Resources​​

  • Original Lesson: Korean War and the Origins of Korean Transnational Adoptions.



  • Armistice - an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for a certain time; a truce.

  • Cold War - an ongoing political rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies that developed after World War II. It was waged mainly on political, economic, and propaganda fronts and lasted until 1991.

  • Korean War - conflict fought between North Korea and South Korea from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and rebellions in South Korea.  North Korea was supported by China and the Soviet Union while South Korea was supported by the United Nations, principally the United States. The fighting ended with an armistice on 27 July 1953.

  • US-Korea Relations - commenced in 1950, when the United States helped establish the modern state of South Korea, also known as the Republic of Korea, and fought on its UN-sponsored side in the Korean War. 

  • Transnational Adoptions - International adoption, also referred to as inter-country adoption or transnational adoption, means a child who is born in one country is adopted by a family from another country.



Lesson 6 Presentation (PDF)

Lesson 6 Teacher's Guide (PDF)

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