International Korean Adoptee Associations

Workshops & Sessions

WORKSHOPS & SESSIONS — Thursday, August 4th

Conference Dates: Tuesday, August 2 – Sunday, August 7, 2016

Location: IKAA Gathering 2016, Lotte Hotel, Seoul, Korea

Please Direct Questions to: Lisa Medici,


SIGN UP TODAY — Click here!

It will be greatly helpful to gauge interest when we are assigning conference rooms, if you complete this sign up. Should you change your mind at a later time, have no fear, just go to the session you’d prefer, no need to let us know. It is not required to sign up in advance, but as mentioned, we will use this to help with conference room designation in an effort to accommodate as many attendees as possible (so those sessions with a larger interest would be assigned to a larger room, if possible). =)



The IKAA Gathering 2016 will take place in Seoul, Korea on August 2 – 7, 2016 and will promote the connection of adult Korean adoptees to each other and their Korean heritage, as well as welcome future generations of adoptees into the adoptee community. This is the largest conference of its kind, occurring only once every three years, with attendees from all across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Attendance in 2016 is expected to reach over 500 participants.

The workshops and sessions at the IKAA Gatherings provide a time for participants to explore more specific topics related to adoption, the adoptee experience, or the themes of the Gatherings. Past sessions and topics have included birth family search, birth family reunion experiences, building relationships with birth family members post-reunion, Korea from a historical perspective, developments in domestic Korean adoption, working and living in Korea, Korean adoptees’ relationships with adoptive family, parenthood, exploring identity through art, and much more.


The theme of the IKAA Gathering 2016 is Connecting Communities & Looking Towards the Future. As the adoptee community continues to grow by adding new generations, both through their own children and families, as well as new and future leaders, it is important for adoptees to stay connected. Building a strong community leads to a brighter future with more resources and services for all adoptees and their families.


9:30 am - 11:30 am: Age Breakout Sessions

9:30 am - 11:30 am: Age Breakout Sessions

This is one of the most popular sessions, which has taken place at each of the Gatherings in Korea. Attendees are split into groups according to their age, so they have the opportunity to meet and talk about personal experiences with adoptees of a similar age, regardless of their adoptive country.

Age Groups are as follows:

Group 1: 1951-1970
Group 2: 1971-1975
Group 3: 1976-1980
Group 4: 1981-1983
Group 5: 1984-1986
Group 6: 1987-1998

Tweens, Teens, & Young Adults Activity

Given the increase in adoptees attending the Gathering who bring their own families to share the experience, we have created special programming for tweens, teens, and young adults who would like some time with their peers (and possibly away from their parents…)!

Come join us for the opportunity to connect with other tweens, teens, and young adults, learn Korean games, try some snacks, and compete for some cool prizes!

11:40 am - 01:10 pm: Morning Workshops & Sessions

11:40 am - 01:10 pm: Morning Workshops & Sessions

Parenting As Adoptees (Adoptees Only)

An interactive group discussion about parenting as adoptees, to be co-facilitated by Mark Traynor (US) and a European adoptee (TBD).

Bburi Kitchen: The Origins of Korean Cuisine

Chef-writer team Seoyoung Jung and Sonja Swanson lead this 90 min. workshop about the fundamentals of Korean fermentation, with jang (장), or fermented sauces, as the centerpiece. You’ll learn how jang, kimchi, Korean pickles and more are made; taste different varieties of artisanal jang; and hear about the history and science behind these fundamentals of Korean food.
For their blog Bburi Kitchen (, Seoyoung and Sonja have been traveling around the Korean peninsula for the last 1.5 years talking to farmers, fishers and local artisanal food producers. Their goal is to share what they learn about seasonal Korean ingredients with a global audience and help broaden perspectives about Korean food.
Seoyoung is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who worked in Michelin-starred kitchens in NYC before joining a Korean food company in Seoul as an R&D chef. Sonja is a graduate of Stanford University who came to Korea six years ago to explore her Korean heritage while working in marketing and media. Bburi Kitchen started when Seoyoung called Sonja and said, “Hey, I have this crazy idea…” Neither of them have looked back since.

The workshop is sponsored by Copenhagen Kimchi Festival. Open to all Gathering participants.

Panel Discussion: DNA Testing

Commercial DNA testing, like 23andMe, is becoming increasingly popular, especially among adoptees searching for biological relatives or family information. Join us for a panel discussion about commercial DNA testing, including some of the limitations of that testing. The panel will include adoptees who will share their own experiences with the commercial DNA testing process. In addition, Dr. Kim Park Nelson will discuss some of her preliminary research on DNA testing and adoption.

LGBTQ Panel Discussion (Open to G16 Participants)

A facilitated panel discussion about the journey to understanding our identities as LGBTQ adoptees. This session is organized by European and American LGBTQ adoptees and will use facilitated questions, as well as include an opportunity for audience Q&A. The session is open to all attendees.

Cultural Session: “Jihwa” — Traditional Paper Flower Making I

G16 Monk-1_SM

Join Venerable Sukyong (pictured above) to learn about “Jihwa,” life-like flowers used in Buddhist rituals, made from traditional Korean mulberry paper (hanji).

Article in The Korea Times about Jihwa and Venerable Sukyong

G16 - Monk 2

Leadership Development Program – Part II

For more information, please visit the dedicated page.

2:40 pm - 04:10 pm: Afternoon Workshops & Sessions

2:40 pm - 04:10 pm: Afternoon Workshops & Sessions

G.O.A.’L: Birth Search Assistance, F-4 Visa, and More…

A panel discussion sharing information about birth family search assistance, F-4 visa and dual citizenship assistance, interpretation/translation support, language scholarships, and more, by the only adoptee-run post-adoption services organization in Korea.

What does Korean food mean to Korean adoptees? (Adoptee Only Session — MAX 30 to preserve the interactive nature of this session, spots will be granted on a first-come first-served basis in accordance with the order we receive your sign up form)


This interactive workshop will explore the role of cooking and eating Korean food in our lives as adoptees. What does Korean food mean to us as Korean adoptees? What connections do we find through the cooking and eating of Korean food, and how does it influence our relations to friend, families, and countries where we live?
Note: The discussion in the workshop may be used in future research by the workshop organizer. All participant input will be anonymous.
Organizer: Anders Riel Müller, Research Associate at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies.

Women Leaders in Korean Society

The roles of women in South Korea are rapidly changing. Today, South Korean women are influencing society not only as daughters, wives, and mothers, but also as professionals, leaders, and influential decision-makers.

IKAA is excited to be joined by two accomplished South Korean women for a panel discussion on Women Leaders in Korean Society. Dr. Juhee Cho, Professor at Sungkyunkwan University, Samsung Medical Center, and Ms. Minji Kim, CEO of CHAMP Kitchen, will share some of their life experiences, as well as their insights about contemporary women in South Korea.

Join us for a lively and interactive conversation with two women who are leading and shaping South Korean society today.

LGBTQIA Adoptees (Closed Session)

This session is an opportunity for LGBTQIA adoptees to participate in a “safe space” open discussion about experiences of community building, struggles with identity, and receive support from others from around the globe. This session is a closed session for LGBTQIA adoptees of any age.

Breakout Session: Partners & Spouses (Partners & Spouses ONLY)

Similar to the Age Breakout Sessions for adoptees, this session will provide a space for the partners and spouses of adoptees to get together for an interactive discussion.

Cultural Session: “Jihwa” — Traditional Paper Flower Making II

G16 Monk-1_SM

Join Venerable Sukyong (pictured above) to learn about “Jihwa,” life-like flowers used in Buddhist rituals, made from traditional Korean mulberry paper (hanji).

Article in The Korea Times about Jihwa and Venerable Sukyong

G16 - Monk 2

KPop Session: SM Entertainment

KPop Session: SM Entertainment


SM Entertainment will come and share information about the K-Pop industry, including videos of some of your favorite K-Pop stars!

Gosh Gosh