Siblings Abandoned in South Korea Reunite 34 Years Later in US After DNA Test Result

By Li Yen, Epoch Times
March 29, 2019 Updated: April 7, 2019

In 2008, Renee Alanko, 38, of Marin County, California, embarked on a trip back to her birth country, South Korea, in search of her biological family. She had no luck finding them.

Alanko recounted that in 1984, she was ditched by her biological father at a marketplace in Seoul. Back then, she was only 4 years old.

found some time this week to crochet. houndstooth infinity scarf; first scarf of the season! *brrrr

Posted by Renee Alanko on Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Her father gave her 1,000 South Korean won (approx. US$0.90) and asked her to get herself a treat. He promised to return, but Alanko never saw him again. Later, a woman approached the lone Alanko and found a note in her pocket that read: “Please send this child to an orphanage through police station. At present, she has no parents,” The Oregonian reported.

Alanko recalled telling the police her name was Jee Young Lee, her dad’s name was Kyung Kuk Lee, she lived with an older sister, Sang Yeon Lee, and that her mother ran away from her alcoholic father because he often beat her when he was drunk.

“I was found on March 24, and they made my birthday March 25,'” Alanko told KOIN 6 News.

Via 23 and me, I found the little brother that I spoke about missing when i first came to the US after being adopted…

Posted by Renee Alanko on Friday, June 8, 2018

Little did Alanko know her little brother, around 2.5 years old, was also abandoned by her father outside the Yongsan Theatre. Her brother was discovered by manager Mr. Hong. Not knowing his name, he was given the name, Hong Ki Hong, after his rescuer.

Alanko, who was eventually adopted by a family in Northern California, vaguely remembered she had a little brother.

She was only certain she had a full-biological brother following a DNA test with biotechnology company 23andMe this summer. The result of the test linked her to Justin Kragt, of Salem, Oregon.

Christmas 1992. I finally got my cabbage patch doll!

Posted by Justin K Lee on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Alanko then contacted her brother Justin Kragt on Facebook. Kragt, adopted by a family in Oregon, was overwhelmed with emotions when he received Alanko’s message.

“It’s kind of you’re happy, you’re sad, you’re excited, you’re shocked, you don’t know what to do,” said Kragt, who had presumed he had been abandoned due to his congenital heart failure.

Goofy enthusiasm: it runs in the family! 😂❤️🌈

Posted by Renee Alanko on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The two siblings reconnected after 34 years, and on Sept. 15, Kragt’s birthday, they finally met up.

Alanko flew to Portland International Airport to meet Kragt and his adoptive family. Even though Alanko and Kragt were still strangers, they both felt a sense of familiarity.

“It felt completely like I knew him,” Alanko said.

Oregon adoptee's

Love this feel-good story! South Korean adoptees who never knew their birth families took a 23andMe DNA test discovered they were full biological siblings.Read more about their story here:

Posted by The Oregonian on Sunday, September 23, 2018

Growing up, Kragt was abused by his adopted father; hence, the reunion helped sooth his wounded heart.

“I always thought I was alone in the world, and I was content with that,” a teary Kragt said.

Hearing that, Alanko said, “Now you’re stuck with me,” while clutching tightly onto Kragt.

No one knew why their father abandoned them. But one thing is for sure: Alanko and Kragt will cherish their newfound sibling relationships for a lifetime.

Brother and Sister

Posted by Justin K Lee on Sunday, September 16, 2018

“It’s something that I’m going to treasure the rest of my life,” Kragt told ABC News.

“Thank you, universe for making this happen!!” Alanko wrote on Facebook.

Siblings are the best. We’re glad Alanko and Kragt have found each other!


Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Renee Alanko’s name. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

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