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a film by Deann Borshay Liem

documentary film - 57:00 - 2010

broadcast on PBS/POV, 2010 - Available on DVD and streaming


Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the US in 1966. Told to keep her true identity a secret from her new American family, this eight-year-old girl quickly forgot she was ever anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE is the search to find the answers. It follows acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem as she returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America. Traversing the landscapes of memory, amnesia and identity, while also uncovering layers of deception in her adoption, this moving and provocative film probes the ethics of international adoptions and reveals the cost of living a lie. Part mystery, part personal odyssey, it raises fundamental questions about who we are…and who we could be but for the hands of fate.


"Haunting and personal..Liem crafts a compelling tale of misplaced identities."
- The Daily Californian

"A fascinating window into the world of international and transracial adoption."
- Hyphen Magazine

"... a masterful, moving and cathartic documentary."
- Cinesource


Audience Award, Best Documentary

San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival


Official Selection

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

Special Jury Award, Best Director

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Special Jury Award, Best Editing

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival


Independent Television Service with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Center for Asian American Media

Katahdin Productions

National Endowment for the Arts

Rockefeller Film/Video Fellowship

American Documentary/P.O.V.

Sundance Institute Documentary Program​

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