There are people who replace deep sadness with deep thoughts. Danish movie director Sun Hee Engelstoft is one of those people. She was adopted from South Korea by Danish parents. When she came to South Korea in search of her birth mother, a single mother asked her, “Are you happy as an adoptee?” It is a harsh and rude question. She could not be happy as she felt like she was dying of longing for her mother. However, she became hesitant in the face of a single mother looking to send her child away for adoption. So she said, “Yes.” It was an answer to comfort the single mother.
Her mother who gave birth to Engelstoft at the age of 19 and sent her for overseas adoption must have felt similarly as the single mother – not abandoning her but hoping that she would grow up in a better place. She wanted to understand single mothers in South Korea, as well as her mom. This is how her documentary titled “Forget Me Not” was created with a subtitle, “A Letter to My Mother.” She stayed in a facility for single mothers for a year and a half and captured their everyday life. During the filming process, she realized that there was no single mother who gave up on her child easily. They wanted to keep their children, but society – let alone their own parents – did not allow it.
The director came to an understanding about her own mother as a result of the process. It was the South Korean society that forced her mother to send her newborn for overseas adoption. It was also the South Korean society that sent about 200,000 children for adoption. Society lacks so much in consideration of an African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Then, she felt even deeper sadness for her mother. She wanted to see her mother even more desperately. “I don’t blame you, so don’t blame yourself, mom. I love you. Forever,” said the director after filming the movie in a hope that her mother will watch it. The heart of the director – or a daughter – for her mother is moving and marvelous.