American Athlete to Be Reunited With Korean Father

ByABC News
February 27, 2007, 6:23 AM

Feb. 27, 2007 — -- U.S. Olympic freestyle skiing medalist Toby Dawson is to meet his biological father on Wednesday after being separated 25 years ago in South Korea.

In a news conference in Seoul today, Dawson said DNA tests had matched his blood and hair sample with Kim Jae-Soo, 53, a bus driver from the port city of Busan, who said he lost his 3-year-old son at a busy market street 25 years ago.

Dawson was adopted by a ski-instructing couple in Vail, Colo.

Dawson has been openly searching for his biological parents, and had made several trips to South Korea in an attempt to trace his heritage.

At the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, where Dawson won a bronze medal in men's freestyle moguls, the South Korean media widely featured Dawson's personal story and quest to find his parents.

Subsequently, several Koreans came forward claiming to be his biological father.

"That made it a little more difficult, and I've also in the last five years had random e-mails and people contacting me, so I had a little bit of distaste for people approaching me and saying that they were my biological parents," Dawson said at the news conference in Seoul.

Dawson wanted to wait until the media attention cooled down, so he canceled his trip to South Korea just after the Olympics to compete in a freestyle event.

"I wanted to do it the right way," Dawson said, smiling to reporters. "I'm still in utter surprise. I'm not even sure it's really hit me that I really am going to be walking into the same room with this man tomorrow. So I'm kind of anticipating and looking forward to it."

Dawson is visiting South Korea this week with his fiancee, Leah Halmi, to meet his father and attend ceremonies honoring him as a PR ambassador by the Korea National Tourism Organization and by The 2014 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee.

Also interested in the welfare of adopted children like himself, Dawson said he would create the Toby Dawson Foundation to help Korean orphanages and adoption agencies reunite families.