Geographies of Kinship

A powerful tale about the rise of Korea’s global adoption program
by
Year Released
2020
Film Length(s)
82 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL

Introduction

In this powerful tale about the rise of Korea’s global adoption program, four adult adoptees return to their country of birth and recover the personal histories that were erased when they were adopted. Raised in foreign families, each sets out on a journey to reconnect with their roots, mapping the geographies of kinship that bind them to a homeland they never knew. Along the way there are discoveries and dead ends, as well as mysteries that will never be unraveled.

Featured review

. politically astute and deeply moving
Brian Hu
Artistic Director, Pacific Arts Movement

Synopsis

Ultimately what emerges is a deepened sense of self and belonging, as well as a sense of purpose, as Geographies of Kinship’s four protagonists question the policies and practices that led South Korea to become the largest “sending country” in the world— with 200,000 children adopted out to North America, Europe and Australia. Emboldened by their own experiences and what they have learned, these courageous characters become advocates for birth family and adoptee rights, support for single mothers, and historical reckoning.

The broader history of transnational adoption since the Korean War provides the backdrop to our stories. For over half a century, 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 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 explores these themes by listening closely to those who have lived the experience most intimately-adoptees-while relaying a compelling history of epic scope.

Reviews

captures the emotional journey of adult adoptees while also spotlighting complex historical aspects of international adoption.
Documentary Jury
Austin Asian American Film Festival

Awards and Screenings

Best Documentary, DisOrient Asian Film Festival of Oregon, 2020
Best Feature Documentary, Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, 2019
Best Feature Documentary, Dallas Asian Film Festival, 2019
Audience Award, Best Documentary, Dallas Asian Film Festival, 2019
Special Jury Mention, Austin Asian American Film Festival, 2019

Director Commentary

While traveling around the world with my previous films, First Person Plural and In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, I met hundreds of Korean adoptees from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Canada. I’ve had the tremendous privilege of hearing countless stories from adoptees of all ages – sometimes heartbreaking, oftentimes funny and ironic, always inspiring. These stories cover the gamut of life experiences – from stories about searching for identity and belonging; to stories of love, loss, and discovery; to questions about “who am I” and “how did I get here?”

Geographies of Kinship attempts to answer some of these questions and offers a window into a history we all share. My hope is that this film will help give voice to experiences that are sometimes too difficult to put into words, and allow all of us to reflect on universal questions of identity, assimilation, kinship and belonging.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Resources for Educators

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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