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YouTuber, musician Dan Matthews shares experience as Korean adoptee

YouTuber+and+hip-hop+musician+Dan+Matthews+talks+about+his+experiences+as+a+Korean+adopted+by+American+parents.+The+talk+was+hosted+by+the+Korean+American+Student+Association+and+Asian+Pacific+American+Coalition+for+Korea+Peace+Day.
YouTuber and hip-hop musician Dan Matthews talks about his experiences as a Korean adopted by American parents. The talk was hosted by the Korean American Student Association and Asian Pacific American Coalition for Korea Peace Day.

YouTuber and hip-hop musician Dan Matthews talks about his experiences as a Korean adopted by American parents. The talk was hosted by the Korean American Student Association and Asian Pacific American Coalition for Korea Peace Day.

Keshia Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Keshia Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

YouTuber and hip-hop musician Dan Matthews talks about his experiences as a Korean adopted by American parents. The talk was hosted by the Korean American Student Association and Asian Pacific American Coalition for Korea Peace Day.

Matthew Choi, Copy Chief

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Had it not been for his music, Dan Matthews said he never would have met his birth family.

Matthews, a YouTuber and hip-hop musician, discussed his experience as a Korean-American adoptee at an event for Korea Peace Day on Thursday organized by the Korean American Student Association and Asian Pacific American Coalition. Matthews, also known by his performance name DANakaDAN, spoke to a crowd of about 40 people in Leverone Auditorium about his experiences reconnecting with his biological family and learning more about the Korean adoptee community.

Matthews ended the evening with a live performance of some of his music.

Joo-Young Lee, external cultural chair of KASA, said KASA and APAC always try to use Korea Peace Day as a platform to raise awareness on social issues in the Korean community. In past years, they have had speakers discuss human rights in North Korea and domestic violence in Korean households.

“We tried to focus on Korean adoption (because) it’s a really big part of Korean society and history that a lot (of) people don’t know about,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “We hope through this event a lot more people can find out about it.”

The issue of Koreans adopted by foreign parents is generally seen as taboo in Korea, Matthews said. Matthews described the diversity of Korean adoptees, going to many countries across the world and having wildly different experiences growing up in a new culture. More than 20,000 South Korean children were adopted by American parents in the last 16 years, according to the U.S. State Department.

Matthews’ prevalence in the YouTube music scene led the organizers of a conference on Korean adoptees to reach out to him, he told The Daily. After attending the conference, he realized there is a vast community of people like him and was inspired to search for his birth family, he said.

“I don’t think I would (have) met my biological family if it wasn’t for my music,” he said.

Matthews found his biological family three years ago and made a documentary, “AKA Dan,” documenting his trip to Korea to meet his parents and siblings. Matthews showed a trailer for the documentary and described meeting his biological family for the first time since being adopted. While preparing to meet his biological family, Matthews discovered he had an identical twin brother, which is common among adoptees, he said.

“Imagine you wake up one day, and your life is completely normal, and you find out that you’ve got an identical twin sibling on the other side of the world,” Matthews said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I could have been him!’”

The experience motivated Matthews to connect with other adoptees and make a second documentary about their stories. He and a team of three others traveled to Seoul last summer to document five other adoptees reconnecting with their birth families.

The second documentary, “AKA Seoul,” aimed to portray the diversity of Korean adoptees, particularly the intersection of adoption with LGBTQ issues, he said. “AKA Seoul” premieres in San Diego in November.

Weinberg sophomore and KASA treasurer Daniel Kang said he enjoyed hearing Matthews’ perspective on a topic often ignored among Koreans. Hearing Matthews’ account of meeting his family was particularly moving, Kang said.

“That’s really not something that’s talked about in the Korean American community or in the Korean community in general,” Kang said.

Email: matthewchoi2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @matthewchoi2018

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