“Since I was a child, I felt not completely belonging to my community (a small village in the countryside in south Sweden) as a Swedish-Korean adoptee. A notion that followed me into adulthood. Not because my family didn't try to make me feel part of society - rather the opposite. The wish for me to feel safe in my Swedish identity led to a lack of space to embrace the other more visibly apparent difference. I was free to speak to my family about the adoption, not the least my sister, who is also adopted from South Korea, but there was no awareness of the issues we were facing as adoptees. This was confusing as I would feel Swedish and continuously reminded by society that I was different because of the certain attitudes towards minority people in the area we grew up in. I was picked on for looking different, which gave me a sense of feeling forced into a grey zone. Neither Swedish nor Korean. This followed into adulthood as I felt undesired/unseen as an Asian male in general society and the LGBTQ+-community.
During my last year of university (2013-14), I decided to look for my birth parents, who gave me up for adoption after trying to raise me for a year. Both were in their earliest twenties unmarried, forcing them to hide me from their own families, which eventually became an unbearable situation. My first visit to Seoul was a challenging experience, as I managed to get hold of both parents (via Social Welfare Society), but they had now established new families and did not wish to see me. After nearly a month in the country, hoping they would change their minds, I left feeling disappointed and fulfilled by learning how strongly my Swedish cultural heritage lives within and it's meaning—a feeling I never had before due to a glorified idea of relating to South Korea. However, there is still a wish to meet both my birth parents one day.
Today I have established a new relation to my birth country through work and by studying the language. I embrace my adoptee- and Korean identity, which I keep exploring every day and as a choreographer focusing on identity and gender.” (Sweden)
Daniel is based in Malmö, Sweden and continues his career as a freelance choreographer and dancer. Keep up with him on Instagram @danieljeremiahp