OUT OF A
SOUTH KOREAN
ORPHANAGE AND INTO THE WORLD

This project exists to tell many stories

There is no single human story that allows us to understand what happened to the millions of infants and children separated from their South Korean families of origin, over the last more than 60 years. It does, in fact, require many stories—contrasting the lives of the adopted and the aged-out, the nurtured and the abused, the blessed and the broken, the loved and the lost, and the almost unimaginable diversity of stories that lie in between.

There are 100 stories in this online video installation. We’d like to think, of course, that you’ll watch every minute of every one of them. We know what each story required of the teller—in human cost, in the emotional toll of remembering love and loss, in the spontaneous and sometimes searing revelations of the moment. 

Each story is presented very nearly in its entirety, as it was filmed. We edited only for clarity, redundancy, and mistakes. Our highest editing priority was to preserve the integrity of each story, as each teller intended it. Names are withheld, for reasons of privacy and safety. 

We did not seek to insert ourselves, as filmmakers, into their truth. In this, we were absolutely determined. That is why every participant was filmed in exactly the same way, on the same neutral background, with the same lighting and composition. We asked every participant to respond to the same four questions, in order to organize their narrative chronologically: (1) Tell us about your origin; (2) tell us about your adoption or aging-out; (3) tell us about how you grew up; and (4) tell us about the years when you became an adult, up until now. Occasionally, we asked a follow up question, for clarification or expansion. 

And this, too, must be said. We know that the breadth of this documentary film project is unconventional, to say the least. It’s not a 30-minute short film, or a 120-minute feature. And, honestly, we don’t know how viewers will respond to the number and length of videos in this project. This is, simply, a documentation of our collective story in as honest a way as we could achieve.

Neither an endorsement nor an indictment of inter-country adoption

These stories, collectively, do not represent a political agenda of any kind. The purpose of this project is only to open an intensely experiential window of oral history, of social and academic understanding, and of empathy through art. We, as the filmmakers, ask you to recognize each story as that teller’s truth in life. We do not present them here to be judged.

We only hope to promote a greater understanding of adoption out of South Korea, and perhaps more broadly, inter-country adoption at large—widely practiced, not only in the wake of wars and geopolitical crises that separate millions of children from their biological families, but also in the course of family disruption and poverty. From 1948–2010, more than 970,000 inter-country adoptions took place. South Korea (over 180,000) represents the longest and largest case of inter-country adoption, establishing a model for adoptions from China, Russia, India, Columbia, Brazil, Chile, Vietnam, Guatemala, Ukraine, Ethiopia and others—peaking between 2000 and 2010, and creating a nearly global social experiment in human migration.

The filmmakers

Glenn and Julie Morey are a husband/wife filmmaking team. Glenn (AKA Kim Kang) was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1960. He was abandoned days after birth, taken to Seoul City Hall, then to a Holt orphanage, and adopted at the age of six months to the US. He has a long career as a commercial and documentary filmmaker. Julie Morey is an artist and filmmaker, and her work has been recognized in film festivals across the country. They live in Denver as empty-nesters, but with adopted cats.

Filming for Side by Side 

Seoul, South Korea — September 24, 2013 

Mokpo, South Korea — September 25, 2013 

Gimcheon, South Korea — September 27, 2013 

Seoul, South Korea — September 28–29, 2013 

Denver, Colorado, USA — January 17–18, 2014 

Seattle, Washington, USA — January 25, 2014 

Portland, Oregon, USA — January 27, 2014 

New York City, New York, USA — February 6–8, 2014 

Washington DC, USA — February 10, 2014 

Boston, Massachusetts, USA — February 19, 2014 

Chicago, Illinois, USA — March 6, 2014 

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA — March 8, 2014 

Stockholm, Sweden — May 4, 2014 

Copenhagen, Denmark — May 8, 2014 

Amsterdam, the Netherlands — May 11, 2014 

Paris, France — October 17, 2015 

Melbourne, Australia — November 20, 2015