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Movie Preview: The Drop Box

September 22, 2015

written by Brian Shesko

On Thursday, September 24, Student Activities will feature The Drop Box for our Documentary Film Night.

It is increasingly clear that the affirmation of human dignity, at all stages and “quality” of life, from advocates of all religious and political persuasions, is one of the most pressing needs of this age. Questions surrounding the fate of the unborn, the refugee, and the equal treatment of all ethnicities in the eyes of the law have dominated much of the national conversation in recent memory. For its part in this conversation, particularly as it relates to the lives of infants and young children, The Drop Box is an important documentary. It highlights the work of Pastor Jong-rak Lee and his wife at Jusarang Community Church in Seoul, South Korea as they take in abandoned children. The statistics given in the film are that approximately 204 infants were abandoned in the city of Seoul in 2013, and that the number of these children has doubled in the past 2 years. As a result, the work of Pastor Lee, his wife, and his church, is essential.

The issue of “quality of life” is evident from the earliest moments of this film, as a number of the children taken in by Pastor Lee have various physical and mental disabilities. Considering the abortion rate of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome both nationally and globally, this aspect of the film is perhaps the source of its greatest glory. Jung Ja Yang, Director of Korea Family Legal Service Center, is quoted in the film saying, “Even the mothers or parents who are capable of raising babies, if the child is disabled, they abandon them.” As much as this film highlights the work of Pastor Lee and those affiliated with his church, the foundation of this ministry, and perhaps the “hero” of this story, is Pastor Lee’s son Eun-Man. Born with major physical disabilities, Eun-Man became the reason Pastor Lee began his work, giving him the experience and perspective to be able to take on the burden of caring for the disabled. (The section of the film featuring Eun-Man, from minute 50 of the film until approximately 59:22 is extraordinarily powerful and full of beauty. We encourage you to pay particular attention to it.)

The film deals with tensions between societal norms and pressures, especially those put on young mothers who get pregnant out of wedlock. It addresses the legal issues surrounding childbirth in South Korea, such as the Korean requirement for births to be registered by the mother in order to keep accurate records, as well as issues surrounding adoption. But most of all, it deals with the care of children who may otherwise be abandoned anywhere at any time. “Abandoned”, “unwanted”, “discarded”: these are terms used to describe children. The contrast of this is the constant image of workers caring physically for these children: holding hands, feeding, putting on clothes, bathing, hugging. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me”; Pastor Lee, his wife, and his workers are the hands of Jesus.

In describing his early life, Pastor Lee says, “I was brought up with love.” Appropriately, Jusarang, the name of his church, means “God’s Love”. The Drop Box is a film of life, presenting a vivid picture of what the tangible display of God’s love looks like in the world, giving grace to the broken and unlovely, and offering hope to all, even the abandoned and unwanted.