Introducing Jung Henin
It is a pleasure to be able to introduce Jun Jung-sik and his work to The Universal Asian community.
Jung Henin (Korean name Jun Jung-sik) was born in Seoul, Korea in 1965 and adopted by a Belgian family at the age of 5. After studying Humanités Classiques and then attending the L’Atelier Saint-Luc in Brussels, he enrolled at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels), and at La Cambre (ENSAV), where he studied animation.
It was in 1987 that his career took a decisive turn, when he met Marc Michetz, who introduced him to Spirou magazine. This enabled him to illustrate some short articles in Spirou and Tintin. He then worked a few months in the workshop of Bernard Yslaire and Christian Darasse, and illustrated the covers of Belgian Business Magazine. In 1991, Jung published the first of four volumes of Yasuda, at Hélyode-Lefranc.
His origin has always drawn him to Asian stories, whether legends or fables. He keeps working on stories about adopted children with some of his representative works being "Approved for Adoption," based on his own experiences, published in Korea, and made into an animation which won the Audience Award and the UNICEF Award at the 2012 Annecy International Animation Festival and was featured as the opening film of the 2013 PISAF, BABYBOX which was published in 2018 and similarly revolves around the story of an overseas adoptee, and the 2019 Le Voyage de Phoenix.
"Approved for Adoption" ("Couleur de peau: miel") The story begins with a little boy digging through trash cans on the streets of Namdaemun Market. The young, barefoot storyteller who smiles brightly as he finds a piece of chicken leg, gently draws the readers in with his innocent and optimistic attitude while reconstructing his experiences with a typical childlike candid sensitivity. This includes not only his personal experiences, but also the political and historical context of Korea, in which the case of "overseas adoption" is tackled. At 14, Jung enters the tough teenage years when he rejects his family in search of his identity. From then on, he will be more inclined to discover new people and make friends. Finally, he discovers the true passion for painting within himself.
In response to a question in an interview with KOREAM about the film, Jun says:
Does this film carry a message? Is there a message about international adoption, which is a very controversial issue in Korea and among the Korean adoptee community? Or do you hope it prompts more discussion and thought about the many facets of international adoption and the adoptee experience, either among policy makers or the general public?
I do not participate in controversies. Nevertheless, through my film, I reflect on international Korean adoption. What is done is done, we cannot rewrite history. Now, it is the Korean government which [sic] has to take the necessary measures in order to definitely stop the abandonments, and to rehabilitate the adopted Koreans if they wish. I think that the Korean government owes a debt to us. I am not against adoption, on the contrary, but it should not exist in this form. The Korean international adoption is the only one of its kind. At one time, two thirds of the international adoptions were originally from South Korea. Too many Korean children have been abandoned and sent throughout the world. Then, we also have to think about the single mothers who all these years have suffered from this situation as much as the adopted people. It is a cultural problem, the mentalities have to change. A single mother should never be forced to give up her child… It is totally against nature. I do not judge international adoption either. Just like for us, the adopted Koreans, a white child adopted by a white family will sooner or later question his or her origins. Who am I? Who are my real parents? Why have I been abandoned? Did they want me?
All materials shared by Jung Henin.