In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee

A Korean adoptee returns to her native Korea to find her "double," the mysterious girl whose place she took in America.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
62 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the US in 1966. Told to keep her true identity a secret from her new American family, this eight-year-old girl quickly forgot she was ever anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers.

Featured review

A poignant culmination of the journey begun in First Person Plural. The film will elicit provocative discussions about identity, race, the politics and ethics of international adoption, and ideas of nation and belonging.

Elaine H. Kim
Professor, Asian American Studies, U.C. Berkeley


In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee follows acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem as she returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America. Traversing the landscapes of memory, amnesia and identity, while also uncovering layers of misinformation in her adoption, this moving and provocative film probes the ethics of international adoptions and reveals the cost of living with someone else’s identity. Part mystery, part personal odyssey, it raises fundamental questions about who we are…and who we could be but for the hands of fate.


A brilliant and moving film that demonstrates how abstract debates over family, race, class and identity both arise out of and inform a life...It is an excellent resource for classes in the humanities and social sciences concerned with cultural interaction and the complexity of family and identity.

Sally Haslanger
Professor of Philosophy, Director, Women's and Gender Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A fascinating look into one woman's personal story of transnational adoption and also a rare window onto the experiences of a generation of working class women in South Korea.
Eleana Kim
Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, University of Rochester
IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE is an exquisitely crafted film that should be in every school library.

Ann Fessler
Professor, Rhode Island School of Design, filmmaker and author of "The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades before Roe v. Wade (The Penguin Press, 2006)

With her unique ability to mix personal perspective to larger institutional issues, Deann Borshay Liem has created two films that are important contributions to the exploration of the complexity of transnational and transracial adoption.

Beth Hall
Executive Director, PACT - An Adoption Alliance

Awards and Screenings

PBS National Broadcast Premiere, Point of View (POV), 2010
Special Jury Award, Best Director, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, 2010
Special Jury Award, Best Editor, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, 2010
Comcast Audience Award, Best Documentary, San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, 2010
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2010
Provincetown Film Festival, 2010
Rhode Island International Film Festival, 2010
Dallas Asian Film Festival
Asian American International Film Festival, New York Secret Histories, Public Policies, Conference for the Alliance of Adoption and Culture, MIT

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Subtitles
  • Transcript

Film/Audio Languages

  • English

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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