It is estimated over 100,000 Korean children were orphaned or displaced during the Korean War, separated from their parents by death, geography and poverty. They were cared for and unofficially adopted as mascots, houseboys and washboys by United Nations soldiers who provided for them while they were stationed in the country. Some children born from liaisons with United Nations service personnel were abandoned by their families and society. A lucky few were adopted by Western families in the United States and Europe after the war. Adoption agencies arose out of the ruins of the war and over 200,000 Korean children have been adopted out of the country since 1953.
Australians in the army, air force and navy regularly interacted with Korean civilians and became deeply concerned by the plight of the children. They sponsored orphanages in Seoul, gave up their rations, and held parties for children in villages near their camps and bases. The following photographs provide a glimpse into these relationships and interactions.
There will be an exhibition on display in the Memorial’s Reading Room from November 2020.