Korean War orphan, Turkish foster dad reunite after 60 years in emotional documentary

Korean War orphan, Turkish foster dad reunite after 60 years in emotional documentaryKorean War orphan, Turkish foster dad reunite after 60 years in emotional documentary
via MBC News
Bryan Ke
April 9, 2024
A 6-year-old documentary that featured the heartfelt reunion of a South Korean woman and the Turkish soldier who took her in during the Korean War continues to bring viewers to tears.
Key points:
  • After 60 years, Kim Eun-ja, also known by her Turkish name Ayla, and retired Sgt. Suleyman Dilbirligi reunited in a park in Seoul in 2010.
  • South Korean broadcaster MBC News featured their story in the 2018 documentary “Ayla, My Korean Daughter.”
The details:
  • Dilbirligi, then 25, found Kim, then, 5, alone and crying in a destroyed village in North Korea in 1950 during the Korean War. Her parents had just died.
  • Dilbirligi took Kim in at the Turkish garrison, where she lived with him and other Turkish soldiers for 14 months. He named her “Ayla.”
  • In the documentary, Dilbirligi recalled how Kim quickly adapted and learned Turkish. She even served as their interpreter.
  • Their time together was cut short when Dilbirligi was assigned to Japan. Kim said her foster father wanted to bring her with him to Turkey, but “something didn’t work out, so he couldn’t.” She was left in the care of other Turkish soldiers before being transferred to an orphanage.

  • Kim tried looking for Dilbirligi decades later, but to no avail. But after 60 years, they met through the help of the South Korean government and the documentary.
  • Their story was also adapted into a 2017 movie titled “Ayla: The Daughter of War.” The film was selected as Turkey’s entry for best foreign language film at the 90th Academy Awards in 2018.
  • Dilbirligi died from multiple organ failure on Dec. 7, 2017, at the age of 91.
Reactions:
  • The documentary still brings people to tears years after it premiered, with one user commenting in the YouTube video, “Couldn’t believe after 60 years [they’re] reuniting again. It breaks my heart how they survived during the war.”
  • “This can make a grown man cry even for me,” another user wrote this week.
  • “This video more than 5 years ago but as much I’m trying to hold my tears but I found myself in tears,” another noted.
 
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