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Filmmaker Statement

Deann Borshay Liem

Cha Jung Hee and I were fellow orphans at the Sun Duck Orphanage in South Korea in the 1960s. She and I had nothing in common and I did not know her personally. And yet, at age 8, just before I was sent to the United States to be adopted by the Borshay family in California, my identity was switched with hers without anyone’s knowledge. I was given Cha Jung Hee’s name, birth date and family history and told to keep the switch a secret. Simultaneously, through a bureaucratic sleight of hand, my previous identity was completely erased.

For years, Cha Jung Hee was, paradoxically, both a stranger and also my official identity — a persona unknown, but always present, defining my life. In my new film, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, I search for Cha Jung Hee finally to put her erstwhile existence to rest by meeting her in real life and finding out how she has fared.

In the course of my journey, I meet many women named Cha Jung Hee and through their stories imagine what my life would have been like had I stayed in Korea. I also delve deeper into the bureaucratic switch that changed my life and, in the process, raise questions about the history and ethics of international adoptions from South Korea.

— Deann Borshay Liem, Producer/Director





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First Person Plural | Adoption History

Learn more about the history of international and transracial adoption, featuring an overview of adoptions from South Korea. Explore an interactive journey into the contemporary history of Korea, mapping out the stories and events which contributed to South Korea's adoption policies.

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