by Thomas Park Clement
Hyunsu Legacy of Hope
(Thomas Park Clement and his wife Wonsook Kim created two identical bronze statues that sit in Seoul, Korea and Howard County Maryland outside special schools to commemorate the memory of a young Korean adoptee brutally murdered by his adoptive father. This is his story of its creation and the continuing Korean adoption crisis -Ed.)
I came back from work one day and told my wife I wanted to make a bronze statue of a five-year-old boy letting go of a butterfly. She was very surprised because I’d never made a statue before. She helped me get started and, to my surprise, I found it VERY difficult and physically demanding. I realized I was in over my head and asked the pro (my wife) to help. It took us nine months from beginning to end to create the two statues.
The problem was our committee did not have locations for the statues. One of them was intended to be placed in the USA at Hyunsu’s gravesite. The other somewhere in Korea, his country of origin. Through her contacts, my wife located the Daniel School/Orphanage for special needs children in Seoul, where one is located today. The U.S. statue though was blocked by Hyunsu’s adoptive mother. Many on our committee tried to work with her and the cemetery but were unsuccessful. His adoptive mother removed Hyunsu’s body from his grave and reinterred him in an undisclosed location. Stymied, my wife contacted a friend of a friend who identified the Linwood school for special needs children and they agreed we could place the statue there.
The statue represents Hyunsu as a little boy prior to his death. The butterfly is Hyunsu after his death when he went through a metamorphosis, grew wings and as an angel flew into the heavens.
The greater Global Korean Adoptee Community, did not want Hyunsu to be forgotten, swept away in the never-ending flood of bad news. We wanted to memorialize his legacy as a reminder to all Korean Adoptees who passed away through murder, illness and suicide. On a grander scale, we wanted to speak to every physically and psychologically abused child in the world.
After the War, Korea was so poor and war torn and filled with extreme prejudiced towards half and half children and orphans. It was good that we were exported out of the country for a better life.
However, today, exporting children is outdated. Many adult Korean Adoptees feel Korea is continuing to export children for monetary gain. The current system is flawed and outdated. We are losing too many of our brothers and sister with few post adoption services. It is the challenge of the adult Korean Adoptee community to organize and lobby for change instead of sitting quietly by as silent observers.
We work to help fellow adoptees get involved via social media so that they may speak with and meet other adoptees who “get it” without saying a word. We want to end the isolation and help them associate with Korean Adoptee organizations. There are many KAD organisations in nearly every state and adopting countries.
We all hate that such a horribly unacceptable death ended Hyunsu’s life. The challenge is ensuring that take his passing and create positive outcomes so that Hyunsu did not die in vain.
If you would like to help Hyunsu Legacy of Hope and their ongoing mission to help end the cycle of abused adopted Korean children, you can contribute on their GoFundMe page here. -Ed