Jeremy Holt is a Korean adoptee and one of three identical triplets. In Made in Korea, Holt’s new comic series along with illustrator George Schall, the concept of identity has new meaning as artificial intelligence abounds and some children are no longer made of flesh and bone. The first three issues (out of six) have been published this spring and summer and the fourth will be published in August.
The comic centers around an interracial couple in Texas who cannot have biological children. After Bill and Suelynn see how well their friends have bonded with their adopted AI child, they start to think about going through a Korean AI agency themselves. Neither of them speaks Korean—Bill seems to only speak English while Suelynn speaks English and Cantonese—but that doesn’t seem to be an issue as the AI children can be programmed to speak the language of their new home.
Meanwhile, at Wook-Jin Industries in Seoul an engineer named Chul stays late at work and manipulates something—what that is, we do not know yet—in a 9 year old AI girl who is soon shipped to Bill and Suelynn in Texas. The couple names their daughter Jesse.
These first three issues are each about 24 pages and show how Jesse and her parents form a new family. The early days are highlighted by Jesse’s extraordinary talent for reading comprehension. At one point the engineer Chul flies to the US for this unknown reason that has something to do with Jesse. The illustrations are punchy and show both the fast-paced nightlife in Seoul with its bright lights and bar scene and the expanse of Texas with its huge homes and stockpiles of guns.
By the end of the third issue, it’s difficult to predict what will happen in the next issue, not to mention the two that follow. Holt and Schall have created an engaging series that ponders the question of what it means to live in a world where parents are no longer biologically related to their children.
Susan Blumberg-Kason is the author of Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong.