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Olympic Win Brings Parental Claims

Posted February. 21, 2006 02:59,   


The number of people claiming that they are his biological father or relative of Toby Dawson, who won the bronze medal in the ski moguls at the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy for the U.S., is increasing.

A Mr. Shin (54. Geumjeong-gu, Busan) said on February 20, “Looking at Dawson’s childhood picture, I think he is my second son whom I abandoned 25 years ago.”

Shin claimed that he was a staff sergeant with a unit in Busan at the time, and divorced his wife, who was suffering from a “mental disease.” He claimed he couldn’t afford to raise his second son, Jae-ho and sent him to a civil affairs office around 1981, where he claims the boy got lost.

“As a father who abandoned his son, I don’t have the nerve to meet him,” he said. “But I am willing to take a paternity test.”

Kim Jae-su (52, Nam-gu, Busan), a bus driver, also claimed, “Judging from his looks and age, Dawson must be my son, Bong-seok whom I lost in a market 25 years ago. After my friends told me that I resemble Dawson, who won the medal in the Olympic Games, I saw the newspaper and there he was, my long lost son.”

According to Kim, people say that the contours of his face and his whiskers look like Dawson’s, and that Kim’s second son, Hyun-cheol, (23, in military service) also looks like Dawson.

Before getting divorced, Mrs. Wi (50), his ex-wife, lost his son in a crowd in 1981 when she went to market Dong-gu, Busan.

However, a Holt Children’s Services official who helped Dawson get adopted said, “After Dawson was found as a missing child in Beomi-dong (currently, Beomil-dong), Dong-gu, Busan, on September 23, 1981, he stayed at the temporary home for children, which was the only home for missing children in Busan. If his parents had wanted to find him, they could not have failed.”

Other parental claims are coming out of the woodwork. A Mrs. Cho, who claims that she is Dawson’s aunt, says that Dawson’s real name is Cho Chang-hun and that he was abandoned in January 1981 after being born at a hospital in Gupo-dong, Busan, and that he has a big spot on his chest.

Currently, Holt Children’s Services and media outlets have received around 10 claims from people who say that they are his biological parents or relatives.

Dawson is scheduled to visit Korea on February 26 in order to participate in the International Ski Federation World Cup that will be held in Yongin-city, Gyeonggi Province on March 1.

Seol Eun-hui (33), a social worker at Holt Children’s Services said, “In case many people turn up insisting that they are his parents and relatives and turn out not to be the ones in the end, he will be greatly shocked and disappointed. Before meeting him, they should take paternity DNA test.”

Meanwhile, an interview record with Dawson from the Holt Children’s Services archives dated November 26, 1981 shows that he understood easy words and was able string words together. He knew his age and name. Accordingly, the possibility that Kim Su-cheol is his real name, not one given to him by the home for missing children, is being raised.

Dong-Bin Seok Jeong-Hoon Kang mobidic@donga.com manman@donga.com