Seoul to Soul

2006 | Biography/History / Body Image / Documentary / Music / Race and Culture / Relationships / Religion/Spirituality / Representation / Social Issues / Spirituality | 18m | USA
Directors: Paul Detwiler, Michael Chen

Born in Seoul, South Korea, but abandoned as an infant, Wade was adopted by Mormon missionaries and raised in Utah. Surrounded by white siblings and friends, Wade never developed an understanding of his cultural heritage, growing to dislike his Asian features. Simultaneously, his religious upbringing made him feel ashamed of his budding desires for other men. Wade’s alienation from his history, from his sexuality and from his family eventually led to estrangement from those around him, substance abuse, and, finally, prison.

Through a spiritual program of recovery, Wade undergoes a transformation in which the labels he gave himself in the past—Mormon, raver, drug user, felon—fall away, leaving him to reconcile his newfound identity as a gay Asian American within a queer community in which he still feels like a minority. Divided into thematic segments, each highlighting a different aspect of his life—his inner turmoil over faith and sexuality; his struggles with race and identity; his descent into drugs and raving; his spiritual recovery; and the re-discovery of his identity— Seoul to Soul is an intimate portrait of one man’s struggle to find the grace that comes with self acceptance.