I don’t know a lot about the first years of my life, only what my adoptive parents told me and they echoed what the Korean agency wrote on the adoption documents.
I was found at an estimated age of 4 years in Korea near the Suwon city hall at the bus station. I was taken to Kyung Dong Baby’s Home and waited for one year to see if someone would come to claim me. After one year of waiting and no-one came, I was declared available for adoption. I was given an identity: the name Jung Seung Hee, birth date (the day I was found), and a year of birth.
In 1989, I arrived in Germany to my adoptive family. They already had four biological daughters and I entered the family as the youngest sibling. I never felt welcomed or wanted in my adoptive family. My adoptive parents where very strict and tried to teach me how to live as a Catholic. My adoptive mother told me that sometimes she would find me sitting on the couch with tears rolling down my cheeks.
For me, even though they asserted that they loved me like their own child and they would always be there for me, I struggled to feel it. This was because of the ways they acted which were different in comparison to what they tried to teach. I experienced a violent childhood – not only for me but also for my sisters. They were hurt by our parents, sometimes for no reason. The most intense things I’ve seen was the youngest sister who was really suffering. She often had migraines because she got ill since her birth and when it was really hard, for example whilst driving, and she would start to cry, our father would stop the car, shout at her and slap her like crazy. After he finished he would said, “Now you have a reason to cry!”
So there are not many good things I can tell you about my adoptive parents. I started to run away from home when I was 11 years old. The first time I went missing for 2 weeks, the second time for 6 weeks. I had a white friend who helped me that time. I was living in a caravan belonging to his parents and he brought me food when they had dinner. His mother didn’t know that I was inside. When I came back home to my adoptive parents – I hoped they might be happy to see me and celebrate my return home – but the only thing they said was, “Go to your room and write down why you run away from home”. So I still never felt welcomed or wanted.
I started with the art when I was very young. We lived in the countryside and had no TV. My oldest sister also drew and I cherished her sketches. I tried to be as good as she was.
When I was fourteen years old, my adoptive parents decided to give me away into another orphanage in Germany. It was for children with behavioural disorders. I was happy to leave my adoptive home, that hell on earth but on the flip side, I wasn’t really a difficult child, I just felt misunderstood and no-one had ever really tried to talk with me about my roots. All they said was, “You are in Germany now. The best way for you will be to forget your past!”
From the age of fourteen, I lived for myself and there were many bad things I did which I’m not really proud of – drug abuse, criminal things and so on. For me, I felt finally accepted in that community of the “bad” and I wanted to be one of the worst of them to get their respect. That was really the wrong way to live and I woke up when I was 18 years old.
It was in jail that I had this awakening. I was struggling because I always walked on two roads in my life – first was the official path as a nice guy being correct – the second side was the dark one. I was very accepted in the criminal scene but in the end I decided by myself. I could see the one side always affected the other. I was just sitting on a chair and said to myself, “You have to do the thing right – you can decide between the bad one and the good one – but you have to do it with all the power in your heart”. Then I said to myself, “Let’s try one more time to be a good one”. Since than everything changed. I stopped contacting old friends, made a cut and restarted my life.
I spoke to my adoptive parents again and told them I will try to do the right things now and please, could they could support me because I wanted to go study Fashion Design. The school was very expensive and I didn’t have the graduation marks to go there, but I sat the test from the University and with my drawing skills, I reached a result no-one ever achieved before. So the University allowed me in on an exceptional basis and I graduated as a fashion designer.
This degree was the first thing I finished regularly.
I finished my fashion design course in 2009 and after that, I decided to earn my money with content marketing and online marketing in the fashion industry. I improved my online marketing skills and did many projects in the past 9 years. The creative part of me never disappeared – it was just on hold and slept inside me.
As it turns out, I was never the bad boy and there was always the real person inside me, who I am right now. There were so many things in my early life that went wrong and I was in that circle which I couldn’t escape because at the time, no-one showed me. I was the one who had to fight for all that I have now and I started to believe in God – not because of the Holy Bible but because there where so many things that helped me to be a good man. No-one could have carried and removed all my wounds inside except for a Higher Power.
I always had many friends. I was always the strong one who fought for the rights of the weak. This was why I got into so many problems with the law – because I was fighting to help others.
With my art, I can feel a lot of what others share with me. All artworks are from different stories. In the end, all of my clients have tears in their eyes when I present the custom made artwork with my interpretation to them. To create these pieces, I chat with them about their life story and after that I build my own profile of that individual. Without exception, they wonder how the heck I can enter their brain and emotions and know them as a person, sometimes more than many of their friends whom they’ve known for years. I don’t know how I can do this – but it happens.
If I get the right feeling, I start the artwork and the pen just flows over the paper. There is no motive before I start – I just think about something that I want to draw in combination with that, but sometimes it changes while I’m drawing because I’m thinking it may represent the feelings better.
Here are some original messages about my artwork from those whom I have worked with:
I am sobbing with wonderful tears!!! (Mary)
I love it.
I can’t believe you finished it so quickly.
How? How do you have this gift and know me from just a few messages?!
I have no words. This is beautiful! I really want to get this printed and framed.
You can read people quite well and were very accurate with your perception of me!
The whole concept and your vision is just … completely incredible!
I can’t thank you enough … this brings tears to my eyes. What I couldn’t express, you did so beautifully.
Messages like these about my art gives me more strength and power to improve my drawing skills to represent more adoptees and their life experiences.
I’m an entrepreneur and founder of my own business (wine and online marketing) but for now, I concentrate on online marketing, consulting and my art.