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‘aka Dan’ episode 2 recap: Drink up!

549617_582675711751061_23734464_nMuch of episode 2 of Dan Matthews’ aka Dan takes place within the context of the 2013 IKAA Gathering, which I mentioned in my first look. I’m not going to say much about the conference right now, but I’ll say this: The inside joke within the Korean adoptee community is that adoptees attend the gathering to do a whole lot of drinking, partying, and hooking up. I’ve kiddingly warned the hundreds of IKAA Gathering attendees to be careful whom they kiss; the danger of having a Princess Lea/Luke Skywalker moment is definitely lurking in the shadows if one doesn’t know his/her biological family background, which is the case for most Korean adoptees.

All joking aside, the gathering revolves around serious content. For example, the 2013 IKAA International Symposium of Korean Adoption Studies run by Dr. Kim Park Nelson included presentations with titles like “Queering Family and Resisting New Racism Through Adoption Narratives” (Kristi Brian), “How Do Cultural Exploration and Peer Discrimination Relate to Sense of Belonging and Sense of Exclusion in Korean Transracial Adoptees?” (Danielle E. Gordon), and “Beyond Gratefulness and Anger: The Heterogeneity of Adoptees’ Experiences” (Kimberly McKee). Plus, there is a tremendous amount of peer support, especially for those meeting so many other Korean adoptees for the first time.

You don’t see this part of the conference in episode 2.

Heavily contrasting the emotive closing of episode 1, episode 2 starts with shots like these.

Despite the fact that he nearly lost his phone and passport, Dan obviously had a great time during his first day in Korea. After brushing his teeth in his hotel (and telling his cameraman to “shut his mouth”), Dan recaps the first day and ends up talking about a decorative fan he received from a “certain someone”. He quips: “You know who you are.”

The good times continue. Dan leaves for IKAA Gathering, being held at the posh Lotte Hotel. He meets DJ Niko Yu, an inked up DJ/hip-hop artist from Denmark.

From there, he hops onto a tour bus and heads to “membership training,” aka, boozing … Korean-businessman-style.

The entire bit, as well as the short moments in the Lotte Hotel, is engaging and at times pretty hilarious. You get to see a different side of Dan that you only glimpse in episode 1. He’s gregarious, outgoing, charming in that “boy next door” kind of way, and a good-looking man. This part of him is reflective of the public stage persona he has developed over the years, DANakaDAN, who, along with fellow Korean adoptee hip-hop artist Gowe, has cultivated a nice following.

Sprinkled throughout all of the good times, though, are subtle moments that most outside of the Korean adoptee and “migrated” communities won’t catch. During the scene at the Lotte Hotel, DJ Nico Yu explains the background of the tattoo he got to commemorate the reunion with his biological family. In reference to his biological father, whom he heard was “very popular with the ladies,” Nico chuckles, “Dad was a player.” The scene is both funny and poignant; individuals who have lost their parents for one reason or another can relate. Also, at the membership training, all of the attendees learn “Airang,” the unofficial Korean national anthem. Dan asks his cameraman if he knows the song. “Dude, every Korean knows that song,” says his cameraman. Well, not if you were raised outside of your culture, but instead within a white culture like Dan was. Individuals who are removed or migrate at a young age from their original environments can’t be expected to know the ways of their place of origin, right?

At 7:20 into episode 2, the tone shifts abruptly. The Dan you see is no longer the partying Dan. It’s the Dan we see throughout much of episode 1—thoughtful, introspective, anxious, and vulnerable. Traveling in a taxi to meet his biological family at his adoption agency, Dan wonders out loud why he’s making such a private moment into such a public spectacle through the original Kickstarter, social media, and the film:

“I’m turning this whole thing … into a carnival.  And I think I feel, like, guilt towards the other adoptees … I feel, like, that I’m not being respectful towards the process.”

The sentiment is something other Korean adoptee filmmakers have struggled with. It’s reminiscent of Jason Hoffman’s Going Home, in which Jason opts to only include the audio portion of his reunion with his biological family:

The sentiment is something that hints at the reality most adoptees face during birth/biological family searches. As Shannon Heit points out, only 2.7% of the 200,000-plus Korean adoptees find their birth/biological families. Because it’s so difficult, adoptees often have to be very public in order to find anything, and disclose a lot of personal information to a nation of strangers. In Korea, adoptees can go on TV shows.  A small percentage of the adoptees who decide to do this successfully connect with their families. However, there’s a cost. The reunion shows are incredibly manipulative, and they treat the losses of Korean adoptees and their families as entertainment. This past spring,  SNL-Korea “othered” Korean adoptees by mocking the entire process in a disgustingly disrespectful sketch.


Again, per Shannon Heit:

“Let’s mock the yearning to find your family and roots. Let’s mock the fact that something that is so taken for granted by most must be fought for every step of the way for overseas adoptees due to the corrupt ways our adoptions were processed.”

And the sentiment is perhaps the most important part of episode 2. Beyond the good times and Dan’s outward confidence exists the film’s core—a compelling story of an individual searching for his history.

Watch episode 2 below.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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