2008; Single channel DV installation in color; 14 minutes
English, Danish, French, German, and Norwegian voiceover; with English and Korean titles
Despite being the world's 12th wealthiest nation and having the world's lowest birth rate, South Korea is still one of the highest exporters of its own children. Having already sent 200,000 of its children to the West during the past fifty five years, approximately 1,800* Korean children annually continue to be sent overseas for adoption -- an average of five (or "tasot" in Korean), children per day. "Tasot (Five)" is a series of video 'snapshots' of five people in Seoul who were adopted internationally: one Dane, one German, one American, one Norwegian, and one Belgian. Each of these European or American citizens has returned to Korea to look for biological kin. The incongruity of their Asian faces and their native fluency in various Western languages (none of the participants speak Korean) challenges our notions of national identity and citizenship. Their willful acts of reverse migration are a commentary on the complexities of the diasporic experience, and a reminder that currently, per year, 30,000 children globally migrate between over 100 countries to be internationally adopted. All of the adopted persons in this video have tried unsuccessfully to find families members by publicizing their stories through traditional Korean media channels and are appearing in this video to gain additional exposure in the hopes that they might be recognized by a birth family member. I originally conceived of this video as a public art piece, and as a counter-representation to the often distorted and overly-sentimentalized mainstream media representations of adoptees, particularly in 'search and reunion' programs.
(* This video was conceived in 2007 when 2006 statistics were available, with the official count at 1899 children sent overseas. These numbers continue to fluctuate annually.)