What happens if a 19-year-old girl, who was adopted at the age of four, decides to visit her native country to find out about her true identity? In Birthplace Unknown, acclaimed Dutch director Karin Junger follows her two adopted half-sisters as they return to Korea on an exhilarating, and at times painful, search for their personal histories. Birthplace Unknown beautifully portrays the challenges that adopted children are presented at adolescence.
My sisters Kim and Sanda
“My little sisters Kim and Sanda were adopted, they are originally from South Korea, Kim came first. Kim Eun Hee, born 15 January 1967. When she arrived she was almost three years old, ill, and in a state of shock. Later, Sanda came.”
Jung II Sung
Jung II Sung was her actual name. She was five and a half years of age, wore a little red uniform, and hit everyone who touched her. We know virtually nothing about Kim and Sanda’s background: a birthplace, a date of birth, a medical report. “We have Korean forms we cannot decipher.A part of their lives has completely vanished, they have questions about their backgrounds, their Korean relatives, their birthplaces.”
Returned to native country
Thus, director Karin Junger returned with her sisters, who had meanwhile grown to women of 20 and 21, to their native country. A journey to an unknown past, hoping for recognition and answers, but with no guaranty for a satisfactory result.
The film Birthplace Unknown is a penetrating report of this journey: the ideas and expectations before departure, the excitement of putting foot on native soil again, the visits to places and people from the past. A film about the importance of having one’s own background and about the confrontation with fate.
- IKON Television
- Dutch Filmfund
- Directed by: Karin Junger
- Production company: Jura Filmprodukties
- Coproducers: IKON television
- Cinematography: Peter Brugman
- Sound: Jac Vleeshouwers & Bert Flantua
- Editor: Leo de Boer
Festival Du Film De Femmes Créteil, IDFA 1988, Margaret Mead Film Festival New York 1989
Joris Ivens Award 1988 At IDFA