• Director

    Deann Borshay Liem

  • Country, Year, Length

    United States/Korea/Sweden/Switzerland, 2018, 80 min

  • Category


  • Format

    Digital (screening) – Digital Video (shooting)

  • Festival Year


Cast: Estelle Cooke-Sampson, Dae-won Kim, LenaKim Arctaedius, Jane Jeong Trenka
Crew: Producers: Deann Borshay Liem, Charlotte Lagarde – Screenwriters: Deann Borshay Liem

In this powerful tale about the rise of Korea’s global adoption program, four adult adoptees return to their country of birth and 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. 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.

Deann Borshay Liem is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker internationally known for her landmark adoption films, First Person Plural, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, and Geographies of Kinship. She has directed, produced, and executive produced a variety of award-winning documentaries including Memory of Forgotten War; The Apology; Breathin’: The Eddy Zheng Story; Ishi’s Return; Special Circumstances; Burqa Boxers; Mimi & Dona; Kelly Loves Tony; and AKA Don Bonus. She is the director/editor of a series of videos for, a web-based oral history project giving voice to memories of Korean Americans whose lives were shaped by the Korean War, and is currently in production with Crossings, a documentary about a group of internationally renowned women peacemakers who cross the DMZ from North to South Korea, calling for peace on the Korean peninsula. Deann is the 2018 recipient of the Women, Peace and Security Fellowship from the San Francisco Film Society.