From Construction Literary Magazine

Winner of the 2019 Non-Fiction Prize

Flying Asiana Airlines for my 19-hour trip in the sky, I was immediately struck by their signature commodity: the gorgeous attendants, replete with winning smiles, trim waistlines, and windswept hair—already in flight. Languishing behind them in line at customs, I marveled at these Asian sirens chatting with our dashing stewards, their slim silhouettes carving out a carefree commercial, beautiful mommies and handsome daddies any abandoned Korean child would want. They made me want to be Korean.

"It wasn’t Chinese or Japanese or Vietnamese. It wasn’t an “-ese” at all. In this family of the Orient, it began to sink in: this is Korea."

Finally at the counter, my passport was stamped: August 18, 2017. It was exactly 36 years after my birthmother surrendered me to the orphanage—to the day. It was also my white, adoptive mother’s birthday. The earliest photograph of me: 6 months old, wrapped in a caul of confusion. Happy birthday, Mom.

Passing through a set of enormous double doors…

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