A 34-year-old man shared an emotional first hug with his biological father in South Korea after traveling from America and spending days trying to find him.
Ignaseio Cattlin, from Dallas, Texas, was 17 when he discovered his father was not his biological father.
Ignaseio’s mom moved to the United States from Korea when she was pregnant, with both parents deciding that their child was best to be raised in America.
After Ignaseio’s biological father started a new life in Korea and married, he and Iggi’s mom lost contact.
Over the decade after he found out about his past, Iggi searched for his biological father using the minimal information he had: his name – Sang-Pil Lee – hometown, university, potential birth year, and potential high school he attended.
Such searches did not create any leads, and it wasn’t until around four years ago, Iggi said, that a real sense of urgency came over him, and he started digging deeper on Google and social media.
Posting his progress on TikTok, Ignaseio eventually decided that he would need to travel to South Korea to search on his feet.
Ignaseio’s sister and her family received an Army station assignment in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, which gave the 34-year-old a reason to travel to the country along with his mother.
Ignaseio flew into Incheon on November 16, 2023, and immediately went to Daejeon to start his search.
After receiving a “resounding no” from the local police department when he asked to help, citing South Korea’s strict privacy laws, Ignaseio came up short when visiting what he thought was his biological father’s high school.
One breakthrough came when he visited the university he believed his biological father had attended, where a staff member in the admissions office confirmed his attendance and provided Ignaseio with his biological dad’s student photo.
It was this photo, Ignaseio said, that showed one local police officer just how much this search meant to the 34-year-old, who expressed how he had traveled from America.
The officer recognized the man in the image and told Ignaseio, his mom and his aunt to head for lunch and await his call back.
When the officer called, he asked Ignaseio and his family to return to the station, where he showed Ignaseio’s mom images of his biological father, aged 33 and now, which brought her to tears.
The officer also said he had spoken to Ignaseio’s biological father, who had informed him that he would like to meet his son.
On November 27, a nervous Ignaseio waited outside Pyeongtaek Station for 30 minutes before his mother received a call from his Sang-Pil, 57, informing her that he could see them.
At that point, Ignaseio’s mom started recording on her phone, with the pair heading toward each other for a tearful hug.
Ignaseio later shared the video on his social media channels, where he has documented his search over recent years.
The 34-year-old plans to return to South Korea in June, hoping to meet more family members on his father’s side.
Ignaseio said: “It was the most unreal feeling.
“Our embrace was tight, and though you couldn’t see my face, I was sobbing.
“This moment I had dreamed about for 17 years finally became a reality, and my dad held me.
“It still feels like a dream.
“Many of my friends and family have been on this journey with me since the beginning, and their reactions were just as heartfelt as the moment itself.
“It was like they had a front-row seat to see a story and dream come true.
“The journey may feel defeating at times and seems to take forever, but it just takes one moment, one person, for everything to change instantly.
“I hope my story inspires others who are looking for a biological family not to give up, and if I can help, I want to share my story to inspire others.”