Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Hanji Box Adoption Movie Review

Hannah is recently divorced and is in the process of downsizing her home. Rose, the young adult daughter that Hannah adopted from Korea, is helping Hannah pack, and seems distressed by the situation. When Hannah accidentally damages a special box, Rose is distraught, believing that she brought the box with her from Korea. Hannah sets off to a Korean district of her city to try to repair the box. Her journey brings her into contact with a visiting Korean artist. Together, they talk about the complexities of adopting from Korea, and the artist shares a perspective that Hannah had not previously considered. Their meeting is short, but influential, and he invites her to come visit him in Korea one day.

The Adoption Connection

Rose appears to have some unsettled emotions connected to her adoption. She confronts Hannah about the broken box, saying “my real mother gave this to me,” and also accusing her of “always wreck[ing] things that are important to me." The complexity of emotions is realistic, as Rose’s distress regarding her parents’ divorce and her father’s impending remarriage interact with her experience of being an adult adoptee.

The artist and Hannah have a very interesting and thoughtful conversation about cultural identity in international adoption. The artist also explains one Korean perspective of the international adoption of Korean babies. He asks some interesting questions.

Strong Points

The artist raises some very poignant thoughts and questions regarding international adoption and identity. When Hannah suggests that her daughter is American, the artist replies, “You raised her like an American because you are American,” and then asks whether Rose really was turned from Korean into an American. He also asks whether Hannah adopted Rose “for her, or for you?” Hannah honestly acknowledges that she isn’t sure. The artist’s questions are deep, but kind and not judgmental. This is a very thought-provoking film.  


Adults touched by international adoption may find The Hanji Box to be very thought provoking. It should be part of the preparation process for adults considering international adoption, particularly from Korea. This is a very thoughtful, 59-minute film.

Questions for Discussion

What motivated Hannah to adopt? Was it one main thing (infertility or a desire to give love to a baby 
that seems to be without a nurturing family), or a combination of both?

Is Rose Korean or American, or some combination of the two?

What would Hannah gain from going to Korea? What might Rose gain?

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