Korean Orphanage film

During our film preservation project, among numerous other topics documented in the film, we found two unusual films shot out of the United States in fall of 2012. They were two user copies of a film featuring the Korean Orphanage, Mun San, that CMU students helped to support.

Some of the Korean orphans, led by a woman named Joy, a Korean orphan who was later adopted by an American family, have reconnected through social media. Joy contacted the Clarke via John Fierst. John contacted Professor Hope May who, through her work with the Center for International Ethics, contacted  the National Archives of Korea (NAK in South Korea). NAK does not have a copy of the film. Jen Bentley and I physically located and played the film. Professor May requested that the Clarke get the film digitized for the KNA, which we are doing, and we will retain a user copy. 
A future special event will be organized by the Center for International Ethics and the Clarke Historical Library to bring interested parties together at CMU.  

An American, Harry Holt, began, implemented, and coordinated the adoption of more than 5,000 Korean War orphans into the U.S. He and his wife began a company called Holt International to facilitate international adoptions.

Still of children playing outside

The film, which is part of the CMU Film Collection, 1940, 1970, 2.5 cubic ft. (in 3 boxes), includes scenes of: a building, a sign/arch [Mun San] over a road, Korean children playing, wood frame of a building being built, a pig eating, two children feeding a rabbit, children writing at a table, woman making food, children at tables eating, children walking in lines outside, children singing while a woman is at a piano, and buildings. Older boys helped feed the pigs and older girls helped prepare food for everyone.

Singing class

Significantly, CMU was the first U.S. college to support a Korean orphanage. Students and staff voluntarily supported the Young Sen orphanage with approximately 70 children in Mun San, Korea, beginning in 1962. The idea was introduced in 1959 by Neil Kirwan. The orphanage was begun by Mrs. Kang Sa-Hyo in July 1951, when she supported 20 children at her own expense. CMU also supported the Blessed Andrew Kim Orphanage on Penayong Island, operated by Fr. Edward Moffett of the Maryknoll Missionaries beginning in 1969. The orphans and fundraising efforts are documented in CMU yearbooks, 1962-1974. The orphans also received support from CARE, the American-Korean Foundation, and the U.S. Armed Forces' Assistance to Korea. 

Girls coloring and doing homework. Note Lucy Ball-style American doll in upper left corner


  1. Love this! So glad you are getting the film digitized.

  2. This is the orphanage opened by my great grandmother. The lady playing the piano is my grandmother, my mother is also in the film. Thank you for finding this film. After showing it to my mother (who is also in the film as a very small girl), she cried remembering all the memories.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I would love to discuss this further with you. Please contact me at my work email marian.matyn@cmich.edu. Marian Matyn, Archivist


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