ENTERTAINMENT

Korean celebrities pose with babies to raise adoption awareness

By 이우영
  • Published : Dec 15, 2015 - 16:58
  • Updated : Dec 15, 2015 - 16:58

Top Korean celebrities posed with babies awaiting adoption for an annual charity photo exhibition aimed at raising adoption awareness.

The 13th annual photo exhibition “Letters from Angels” features black-and-white portraits of 24 celebrities holding babies and children awaiting adoption. Participating celebrities include singer Roy Kim, Kangin of Super Junior, Lee Moon-se, four-member vocal group Noel, actors, actresses and star athlete Park Chan-ho.

Celebrity photographer Cho Sei-hon, well known for his fashion shoots and celebrity portraits, took the photos for the 13th consecutive year.

“The photo exhibition is held to draw public attention to adoption and the babies whose beginning was different than that of other babies,” Choi said in a phone interview with The Korea Herald. 

Kangin of Super Junior poses with a baby. (Photo by Cho Seihon)

Cho has taken more than 200 portraits of celebrities with babies waiting for adoption since he started the photo campaign series in 2003, volunteering to take portraits of infants in foster care at Social Welfare Society, a children’s welfare and foster care agency established in 1954. 
(From left) Singer Lee Moon-se, Roy Kim and actor Ryu Seung-ryong pose with a baby. (Photo by Cho Seihon)

Cho said his portraits have contributed to changing how adoption is perceived in Korean society.

“In Korea, adoption used to be conducted in secret, but the campaign contributed to changing the old perception of adoption. People began to accept it and talk about it openly,” Cho said, citing makeup artist Jeong Sam-mul and her husband’s adoption of a baby he photographed for the campaign. Jeong announced the adoption in 2014.

“Throughout the adoption process, they were very open, posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram. It was widely celebrated,” Cho added.

The number of babies adopted within Korea decreased dramatically from 1,304 in 2008 to 393 in 2014 in the economic downturn, according to the SWS, quoting an adoption figure provided by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

But more than 90 percent of the babies and children photographed by Cho have found new homes. Cho visited some of their families in Korea and in the U.S. and took photos of them with their families.

In 2013, Cho founded the nonprofit education organization Cho Seihon’s Hope Frame, through which he offers photo classes to orphans, children from multicultural families and homeless people.

“Digital photography holds a lot of potential for kids. They can incorporate it into production of other types of digital media such as games and movies. I hope my education provides hope and dreams for many underprivileged children,” said Choi.

The exhibition runs Dec. 16-21 at Gana Insa Art Center in Insa-dong, Seoul. The photos are also on view online at Naver (photo.naver.com) and at the official website of Social Welfare Society (www.swc.or.kr). Proceeds from sales of the exhibition catalogue and posters will be donated to the SWS. For more information, call (02) 736-1020.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)