How do I Find Lost Relatives in South Korea?

by Kevin Floyd

The Korean War and the prevalence of adoptions in South Korea are two major reasons why people have missing relatives in that country. It's possible to find and get in touch with your family, but it can be difficult if you are outside the country and you do not speak or read Korean. There are a variety of government agencies and nonprofit groups that help people reach out to family members in Korea.

Gather any family documents or records that you have in Korean or another language. Contact your local Korean Embassy and inquire about translation services to find out what kinds of documents you have.

Contact the "Dong" (ward or neighborhood) office in the city in which your family lived. This office can provide you with a copy of the "Hojuk" (family registry) if you can prove that you are or may be part of the family. Note that some ward offices will only give you this paperwork if you apply for it in person.

Contact Korean media outlets and inquire about their lost relative programs. For example, KBS TV has a show called "I Miss That Person" in which guests tell what they know of their family history in an attempt to reach lost relatives. Many of the shows are only in Korean, but they provide translation services.

Contact your adoption agencies in both your home country and Korea to find out more about your family history. If you only have records for your home country, then the organization can give you contact information for the Korean agency.

Work with outside organizations and nonprofit groups to try and find lost relatives in South Korea. Groups like G.O.A.L. (Global Overseas Adoptees Link) have offices in Korea and can help you search if you cannot go to abroad yourself.

Items you will need

  • Family records or adoption papers


  • Local Korean churches and community groups often have translation services, but some government agencies will require a notarized or an Apostille copy. Apostilles are available from your state secretary's office and are the standard for certified international documents.
  • The family registry will contain the full names and address of your family members in that region. If they have moved, their new cities should be marked as well.


  • The search for lost relatives can be a long and difficult process that is emotionally draining and not always successful.

About the Author

Kevin Floyd is a freelance journalist who has written about health, environmental and financial topics since 2007. He covered the daily news of western New England as an intern with National Public Radio. Floyd has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Photo Credits

  • Friedhof in Korea image by Angelika Bentin from