Nearly One-Third Of US Foreign Adoptions Come From China

CAIXIN (China)


BEIJING - Of the 8,619 children adopted by American families last year, including kids from more than 40 countries, more than 30% came from China, Caixin media reports, citing data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Because of toughened regulations, 885 fewer children overall were adopted internationally by Americans compared with 2011, according to Caixin media. But the number of adopted Chinese, 2709, has increased to account for 31% of U.S. international adoptions.

The report pointed out both that China is America's largest international source for adoptions, while America is the principal destination for Chinese orphans who wind up abroad. Between 1999 and 2012, some 82,000 Chinese children were adopted by American families. In the peak year, 2005, the number of Chinese infants adopted reached over 7900, meaning one out of every three adoptee was from China.

In the Siping orphanage - Wu's photoland

China, Ethiopia and Russia are the three major sources of children for adoption by the United States. However, last December, Russia signed the anti-Magnitsky Act as a response to the U.S. signature of the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russia over human rights issues. It's expected that the number of Chinese adoptions may rise again now that the anti-Magnitsky Act prohibits the adoption of Russian children by Americans.

The Caixin report also mentions the significant gender gap in adoptions from China: 68% of those adopted are girls. Only India and China showed such an abnormally high percentage of girl orphans, though India only places around 100 children in America each year. China's one-child-per-family policy contributes to the grim situation of abandoned baby girls.

According to the U.S. State Department's Office of Children's Issues, in 2012 the adoption process for of a Chinese child cost on average around $15,000. The complete adoption formalities cycle takes up to nine months, which places China roughly in the middle among all source countries.

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Debt Trap: Why South Korean Economics Explains Squid Game

Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.

In the Netflix series, losers of the game face death

Yip Wing Sum


SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.

The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.

It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.

Seoul housing prices top London and New York

In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.

According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.

Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.

One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.

According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.

Playing the stock market

At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.

A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."

In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.

42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s

Simon Shin/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Game of survival

In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.

But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.

This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.

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