Adoptions in South Korea are a big business. American families seeking to adopt children pay less for adopting Korean than American-born children. South Korean couples also adopt children so that they will be viewed as having normal families. Those not adopted end up in orphanages until adulthood.

Released on Korean American day, Broker (Beurokeo in Korean), directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, begins when So-Young (played by Lee Ji-Eun) puts a baby on the ground outside a church “baby box” one night. Meanwhile, Soon-Jin (Doona Bae) and Lee (Lee Joo-Young) are surveilling the area for the poice to track down those reportedly selling babies on the black market. Soon-Jin then puts the baby into the “baby box.” Those running the illegal business, middle-aged Sang-Hyun (Song Kang-Ho) who owes money to gangsters, and youthful Dong-Soo (Gang Dong-Won) who grew up as an orphan, find a note with the baby indicating that the mother will return. By law, a baby accompanied by such a note cannot be legally adopted and must be sent to an orphanage. When So-Young returns the following day, her aim is to collect a portion of the price that adopters pay for the baby; she considers the two men to be “brokers.” Next, the two policewomen track the brokers with So-Young’s baby so that they can make an arrest whenever cash flows to prospective adopters. The policewomen are aware that So-Young is a prostitute who has killed one of her clients, but their priority is to shut down the underground trafficking. The film then traces unsuccessful efforts to find adopters: In one effort, the adopters lower the price they are willing to pay and walk away. In another situation, a policeman and woman pretend to seek adoption, but the brokers realize that they are decoys and avoid entrapment. Then the two policewomen make a deal with So-Young if she will cooperate to arrest the brokers. Although the story is fictional, the brokers and sex worker give special care given to the baby as if members of an extended family. Filmviewers must see the end of the slow-moving film to find out what happens.   MH

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