Collections: Finding Seoul
I knew the minute that I found John’s incredible film, that I wanted to discuss it in the magazine. John Sanvidge was adopted from Seoul, South Korea at five months old and raised in a loving family in upstate New York. Like other adoptees, John integrated so nicely into his family life, he says that, “unless I looked in the mirror, I wouldn’t know that I wasn’t white.” Nonetheless, in his 20s he began to think about his birth country . . . and his birth family.
John works as an editor and filmmaker and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2006. He has edited shows that have aired on A&E, Discovery Health, National Geographic Wild Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Speed And Biography. He chose to make Finding Seoul, his own film of his trip back to Korea and many discoveries he made about himself, his country of origin, and the shocking discovery he made about his birth family.
I asked John to write a paragraph about why he made the film, so I will let him tell you his story, and then invite you to watch the preview of the film. I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
I wanted to film my experience so that it was something my family could look back on. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get as I started filming, but found that it was important to tell a story that you may have heard about, but didn’t see what the impact of that news could do to a person. I felt it was also very important to include my family in the process of my search. They have been there for me and supported me ever since I brought the idea up about wanting to search for my birth family.
What I found when I was in Korea was that I didn’t feel like I could find my place there. I unfortunately felt very little connection to Seoul, and at times felt that I was definitely an outsider. I have come more to terms with that since being more involved in the adoptive community where I live, but it’s still something that I don’t think I could change, no matter how many times I go back and visit.
My main goal with my film was to present one individual story out of thousands out there and hopefully help people understand that they aren’t alone if and when they’d like to do their own search, whatever that may be.