'I Should Have Looked Harder for You'

A father and son, separated by several continents for almost a quarter of a century, had an emotional reunion in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday.

"I've been waiting a long time, father," said Toby Dawson, the U.S. Olympic freestyle skiing medalist, to his biological father as the older man fought back tears.

Avoiding his son's gaze, Kim Jae-Soo, 53, said, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I should have put more effort in finding you."

Twenty-five years ago, Dawson, now 28, became separated from his mother during a shopping trip to a busy marketplace in the port city of Busan. Dawson was eventually taken to an orphanage and later adopted by a Vail, Colo., couple who were both ski instructors.

Kim said he searched for years whenever he could find free time from his job as a truck driver.

"I went to many orphanage houses only to hear that they didn't have anyone like him. They wouldn't let me come inside and look for him," Kim said, adding that he eventually had given up.

Dawson, who had told ABC News just before the meeting that he was "too tough to cry" and would not show tears at the first sight of his father, encouraged Kim to "be strong emotionally and be happy and there's no need to cry."

Though grateful to his adoptive parents, Dawson, whose original Korean name was Bong-seok, has always been eager to reconnect with his biological family.

After his medal-winning Olympic performance at the Turin Games generated stories that were featured in the national media here, several couples came forward to claim him. After DNA testing was performed, Kim Jae-Soo was found to be his father.

Kim and Dawson's mother are now divorced, and she was not present for the meeting. However, Kim's younger brother, 24-year-old Kim Hyun-cheol, was there, and the two also met for the first time.

Dawson presented his father with a Norwegian sweater with the U.S. skiing team logo, explaining that skiing was an important part of his upbringing and that the sweater represented who he was. Kim immediately slipped it on.

The two, during a news conference, sought to find common ground.

"I never really had a picture in my mind of what you would look like or anything like that," Dawson said, smiling to his father, "but I guess I've always grown up with pretty long sideburns and looking at him now, I can see where these sideburns come from."

In response, Kim shared a story from when Dawson was a toddler and liked to jump down from their low-rise chest at home. "There must be a scar on his left eyebrow from that day when he bumped into the corner of the chest," he said, checking out his son's forehead.

The two held hands throughout the hourlong news conference. Today's meeting was sponsored by the Korean National Tourism Organization. Dawson has been awarded an honorary PR ambassadorship to the Tourism Organization and also the 2014 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee.

Dawson told ABC News that he decided to make his reunion public so that he could use the opportunity to raise awareness on the complex nature of foreign adoptions.

Although he was fortunate to have understanding American parents, Dawson recalled being confused with his identity.

"Every time you look in the mirror, or when do you know, you go to the grocery store and people kind of look at your parents and then look at you differently. It was always out front and for me, it was always kind of an issue," he said

"My life until now has been confused," Dawson said. "I looked at my parents, and I didn't look like them. Then I also felt if I went to Korea, I didn't belong there. I felt like I was still lost, stuck between two different worlds."

Dawson believes that Korea should try to keep its orphans within the country. As a counselor at the Korea Heritage Camp, where adopted children from South Korea and other Asian countries get together in Colorado every summer, he wants to be the spokesman for children going through similar experiences.

"There's a lot of heartache and a lot of confusion on who they are growing up, and it seems almost like a fad right now. It's kind of in vogue to adopt a child from a different country. That's kind of what I get distaste for. … It's not like going out and getting a new German car or something -- that's not what having a child is all about," he said.

Dawson says he plans to establish the Toby Dawson Foundation this week to help Korean orphanages and adoption agencies reunite adoptees with their biological parents.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.