Film: Geographies of Kinship-The Korean Adoption Story (in development)

I hadn’t heard of this film, currently in development, Geographies of Kinship-The Korean Adoption Story. And I also didn’t know that Deann Borshay Liem had her own film production company. Interesting.

Geographies of Kinship-The Korean Adoption Story

Geographies of Kinship-The Korean Adoption Story (in development)

GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP-THE KOREAN ADOPTION STORY (working title) is a 90-minute documentary that explores the history of transnational adoptions of Korean children from the 1950s to the present, the role these adoptions played in the transformation of Korean society in the postwar era, and the impact they have made on the ongoing evolution of family formation in the West. Interweaving elements of historical narrative, contemporary scholarship and character-driven stories, Geographies of Kinship will examine the complex interplay of geopolitics, transracial adoption, and cross-cultural kinship and identity in our increasingly globalized world.

Since the 1940s, Americans have adopted close to half a million children from over 100 different countries. The practice of adopting children from abroad began after World War II when large numbers of children were orphaned, abandoned, or separated from their parents in the conflagration.  Moved by their plight, Americans began adopting war orphans from Europe and Japan as a way of providing humanitarian assistance. It was the Korean War (1950-53), however, that initiated what the Los Angeles Times called, “the first mass wave of international, interracial adoptions ever on the planet.”

While the United States has been the largest adoptive nation of Korean children—over 111,000 to date—other industrialized countries have played significant roles, with France and Sweden leading Europe in Korean adoptions. The inclusion of European, as well as the Korean and American characters, scholarship and points-of-view, will reveal the rich diversity of the adoption experience, while allowing for comparative perspectives on a phenomenon that truly bridges cultures.

The Korean adoption experience and subsequent Diaspora have transformed not only how adoption is practiced worldwide, but also how kinship, identity and race are perceived and contested. As the forerunner for a growing number of international adoptions from China, Russia, Guatemala, Ethiopia and other countries, the Korean model challenges us to reflect on universal questions of identity, assimilation, kinship and belonging. GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP-THE KOREAN ADOPTION STORY will invite viewers to listen to those who have lived the experience most intimately-adoptees-while relaying a compelling history of epic scope.

Project Status

GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP-THE KOREAN ADOPTION STORY is currently in development.  Pre-interviews with Korean adoptees from Europe and the U.S. were shot during the International Gathering of Korean Adoptees in Seoul in both 2004 and 2007. With support from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, the production team was able to travel to Sweden and France, the two European countries with the largest number of Korean adoptees – approximately 10,000 in France and 8,800 in Sweden – to conduct research and pre-interview adoptees living in Stockholm and Paris, including members of Adopterade Koreaners Forening and Racinnes Coréennes.

Research over the past several years has yielded a rich collection of archival photographs and moving images related to Korean orphans and the Korean War, as well as of adoptions that took place from Korea during the 1970s and 80s.  This archival material provides a fascinating window into the history of Korean adoptions, from the Korean War to present day.

We are currently fundraising for the remaining budget to complete the film.  Specifically we are trying to raise funds to create a sample reel for use in fundraising, to collect archival material related to Korean adoptions in Europe, and to complete a script for the film.  Please help support this project by making a donation!


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