'The Ugly Model' is a documentary about a Korean American adoptee and fitness model Kevin Tae-jin Kreider who seems to have it all; he has a popular Instagram and vlog and has modelled around the world. However, underneath lies a loneliness and insecurity as a Korean adoptee growing up as an Asian male in a white family in America.
As intercountry adoptees our panel members discuss the issues of racism, identity and micro-aggressions as we look at the impact of transnational adoption.
Shaun Hardwick is a Korean adoptee who primarily grew up in country Victoria. He relocated to Melbourne in 2007 to study and has been working here ever since. He has a background in business development roles across financial services, government and IT, and recently completed an MBA at Victoria University Business School. Recently he has been investing time in adoption-related interests, you may recognise him from a recent SBS Insight program where he shared details of his adoptee experience growing up in Australia.
Ryan S. Gustafsson Ph.D is a queer non-binary Korean adoptee, researcher, teacher, and podcaster. They are currently working on two research projects: on Korean adoptee experiences, and on philosophies of nature. Ryan is co-creator of Adopted Feels, a podcast on anything and everything adoption related, and The Call Me By My Name Project: A Trans Oral History Podcast. They also organize free scholarly events in Melbourne’s CBD as one of the founders of the Philosophies of Difference group.
Jessica Walton Ph.D is a senior researcher at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation. She has written extensively on transnational adoption, race, racism and identity with a recent book published by Routledge called, "Korean adoptees and transnational adoption: Embodiment and emotion". Jessica was adopted from South Korea to the United States and has found a home through the Korean adoptee and transnational adoptee communities in Australia.
Meike Zielinski is a mental health credentialed Occupational Therapist with a Masters in Creative Arts Therapy. She has been working with children since 1989 and has been involved with the ICAFSS program for the past 4 years in her role as Child & Family Counsellor. Her work is primarily relational and systemic, through a trauma/attachment lens. She has lived experience of voluntary migration from Europe with her nuclear family in 1972.