Deported Korean-American Adoptee Found Dead of Apparent Suicide


Five years after being deported back to Korea, a Korean-American adoptee was found to have apparently jumped to his death from an apartment building in Ilsan, in Goyang, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea.

According to Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link (G.O.A’.L), 42-year-old Phillip Clay was discovered dead outside an apartment building at around 11:40 p.m, Korea Times reported.

In the retrieved surveillance footage from the apartment building, it was reportedly revealed that he was alone in the elevator as he climbed up to the 14th floor of the building he jumped from, local officials said. While the suicide angle is apparent, the case is still being investigated by the police.

G.O.A.L secretary general AK Salling, is also an adoptee from Denmark who, since her return to Korea,has  been busy doing volunteer work for organizations that support adoptees.

“This is a wake-up call that we need to look at post-adoption services that are being provided,” she was quoted as saying. “We need to ask ourselves if they are sufficient and if they include everybody.”

The non-governmental organization, which is run by adoptees in Seoul, revealed that Clay was not well known within the adoptee community in Korea.

Clay, who was adopted by an American family at age 10, was deported back to Korea from the United States in 2012 as he never attained American citizenship. Several generations of Korean adoptees face a similar situation in the U.S. Reports revealed that Clay’s deportation proved to be too difficult for him that he suffered from psychological issues soon after he arrived in Korea.

“In Korea, there’s not a huge awareness of mental issues. It’s a serious factor because of the upbringing and traumatic events we go through in our lives are hard to process,” said Adam Crapser, a recently deported Korean-American adoptee.“It’s hard to live a productive life.”

Crapser went to Clay’s funeral, held at Myongji Hospital by Holt Children’s Services Inc in Korea. It was attended by around 30 people, which includes other representatives from various adoptee organizations such as KoRoot and Adoptee Solidarity Korea.

Crapser and Clay lived quite similar lives. Both of them were deported back to Korea since they were never given American citizenships. For both, Korea is a very foreign country, since they had not lived even a single day in it for decades.

He was deported last year but stayed in an immigration detention center for nine months. During the past six months, he had been trying to adapt to his new life in the country. Clay’s death, however, has made him less optimistic.

“It could be me tomorrow,” Crapser reportedly said.