Episode 7 is short. It clocks in at about six minutes if you take out the intro and closing, and it marks the beginning of the end of Dan’s trip to his motherland.
He receives paperwork confirming that the Korean family he’s met is indeed his biological family. He receives well wishes via video from friends back in California and his adoptive mother. He prepares for “the biggest performance of his life”—a performance that signals the closing of the IKAA Gathering, where he has made so many new friends. Dan gets emotional; it’s something you don’t see much in previous episodes.
I’ve seen many adoptee films because of my work with Land of Gazillion Adoptees and Gazillion Strong. It’s gotten to the point that I’m pretty desensitized to the films’ raw emotions. That said, many adoptee movies trigger certain reactions, and this episode (as brief as it is) is no exception.
For many of us Korean adoptees, the process of reconnecting with our biological families is life-changing. For many of us, there’s something incredibly powerful about being in a large group of your peers—people who understand you. For many of us, being in Korea surrounded by those who resemble us is enlightening. As Dr. Darren Wheelock writes in the upcoming Gazillion Voices, issue 16, about his first trip to Korea:
For the first time in my life, I truly felt like I was just another … person. That’s something that white Americans generally never have to experience—standing out when you really just want to fade into background, not being different and having the comfort of being completely ordinary.
For many of us, just being in our place of birth is often unsettling—in that good kind of way.
The totality of all of this is what Dan sees slipping away in episode 7. And for many of us Korean adoptees, that experience is similar to losing Korea, Korea’s history and culture, the Korean people, and our Korean families again.
Watch aka Dan episode 7 below.