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The Quiet Whistleblower - Documentary

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Logline: 40 years after being adopted into a French family, a Korean woman discovers that her natural parents never abandoned her and begins a personal investigation to uncover the lies and corruption behind her case and that of thousands like her.

The Story of Kim Yooree
Since she was 11 years old, without knowing it, Yooree has had two lives. Born in the Republic of Korea in 1972, her brother and her were adopted by a French couple, after being abandoned by their biological parents in 1984. At least that's the official version she was told and believed until recently.
In January 2022, Yooree received her adoption file and could not find the parental consent nor any document supporting an abandonment from her parents. She was shocked to find out that she was officially still a Korean national and that her Korean parents never gave her away. She had been living in a lie for 39 years.
Ever since, she’s been trying to understand how it happened and bring those responsible to justice, while also helping other adoptees find their biological families and the truth about their past.

A self-made investigation 
Although there have been cases of Korean overseas adoptees in the past raising awareness and trying to take legal action, Yooree is the first case of someone who has found such an overwhelming amount of evidence to support it. Her investigation was a product of pure grit and determination, taking her sleepless solitary nights to find, analyse and compile all the hidden documents pertaining to her illegal adoption.

Adoption as a business
Through her investigations, Yooree learnt that her case is by no means isolated and that the main adoption agencies acted like profit-based businesses. A system in which the goal of adoption was flipped on its head so that the demand for adoption drove the supply of children and not the other way around. The needs of foreign parents came before those of the children they were supposed to help. Private agencies would hunt for the child that matched the profile of what these couples wanted. If there weren’t enough children in need of adoption then other measures would be taken, including stealing them from their biological parents or lying about their status as an orphan. Essentially thousands of children were unknowingly stripped of their native identities and familial ties to serve this perverse marketplace. As Yooree herself says: “They made me an orphan to make me adoptable”
She is one of 250,000 children Korea has provided for Intercountry Adoption (ICA), which represents 40% of the intercountry adoptees in the world. It’s difficult to know for certain how much Korea has gained exactly, some experts estimate that it has brought at least 3,3 billion USD. Having the oldest and historically largest ICA programme in the world, Korea has a long history of failing its children, something that this film will explore. It has meant the largest migration of children from a country not at war, what some call the “Quiet Migration”

Yooree's memories
Yooree recalls a happy childhood, which abruptly ended as soon as her parents divorced and she was put in an orphanage temporarily. The siblings suffered from hunger, violence, and horrific living conditions. However, everything would get worse as they were secretly supplied to the agency adoption agency Holt Children’s Services and eventually sent to France, far away from their family, their culture, and everything they had known. They would end up in a cruel and abusive household in the middle of the countryside.
Yooree’s memories will be recreated using stylised animation.

Connecting with activists for adoptees’ rights
Through her quest, Yooree has been in touch with different experts and activists who have been involved in the field of Intercountry Adoption for decades.
Pastor Kim runs Koroot, an advocacy organisation and guesthouse for Korean adoptees who are visiting the country, often in search of their biological families.
Helen Roh used to work for the largest adoption agency, Holt, before discovering the profit-driven culture she was involved in and becoming an academic. She and Dr Shin Pilshik have recently conducted the first study on the well-being of Korean overseas adoptees. 

Parents and children searching for each other across decades
We experience the struggle of keeping hope alive from both angles. Yooree is helping overseas adoptees find their origins, while Missing Children Korea is dedicated to helping parents whose children have been kidnapped. The organisation was started when its founder lost his own daughter. 

Growing media attention
When KBS released a TV documentary about Yooree the Youtube video became one of the most watched in Korea at the time. Since then she’s been interviewed and followed in her journey by different broadcasters and publications.
In general, there seems to be a growing momentum with adoptees around the world starting to come out and speak up about their cases, often joining forces in solidarity with each other.

Landmark case
Yooree is taking the legal battle to both countries involved in her adoption, South Korea and France. Both are now being investigated and this is particularly relevant in France because so far no adoptee has been able to do this in the country, another testament to the strength of her case and the evidence that she was able to find. The feeling is that this will open the doors for other adoptees to have their cases heard, creating a precedent, at least at the national level.

This film is being made entirely by two independent individuals with no external support, so every donation is greatly appreciated.
The funds gathered here will be used to finish production and post-production of the documentary. We thank everyone who contributes to making sure this important story is told and brought to the public.

This fund raising is made by Redshift Media,
88B Pepys Road, London, SE14 5SD.


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