The Drop Box (TheDropBoxFilm.com, released March 3-5) is a documentary offering a profound testament to the dignity of every human life — even those lives society deems expendable. This well-made film shows sadness, deep love and profound joy. I have a feeling it will inspire more than one person and change more than a few hearts.
The story centers on Protestant pastor Lee Jong-rak, who, in 2009, built a baby “drop off” box because hundreds of babies every year where being abandoned on the streets of Seoul, South Korea.
Before the box, some of those abandoned babies were left in front of Pastor Lee’s home, which also serves as his church, called Jusarang (“God’s Love”) Community. Lee and his wife feared for the lives of children being left during the night in cold weather. “If I don’t do something to save these children, I could be picking up their dead bodies at my gate,” he says in the film.
Ding, ding, ding, ding trills the doorbell when an infant has been dropped off. The baby’s weight triggers a sensor that sets off an alarm, prompting the pastor to come and open the “baby mailbox.” He gently takes the infant out of the box, thanking God for a life spared. Even so, the “baby box” is controversial, and the film fleshes out why some people are against this practice.
Overall, the inherent value-of-life theme is threaded throughout The Drop Box, though it never mentions the words “abortion” or “pro-life.” This documentary is not a one-note film about a baby drop box — though that would be a worthy subject on its own — but is a multilayered documentary that will leave audiences thinking about why we live in a society where the unborn and the disabled are often discarded — a “throwaway culture,” as Pope Francis calls it — and a pastor’s Christlike love and acceptance of people in all of their weakness and imperfection.
The most thought-provoking idea in this documentary is that disabled children have a hidden purpose. Lee calls them the “educators of society” because of their ability to change people and to make them look more closely at themselves. He discovered this from his son Eun-man, who is severely disabled and has never walked or said a word. But in taking care of and loving Eun-man, his father learned about how much these special people have to offer.
In fact, Eun-man was the inspiration for building the box.
I screened The Drop Box twice. As I viewed it a second time, I could see there was a hidden story being told: how seeing true love in action has a transformative power. Director Brian Ivie had a conversion while making this film, becoming what he calls “vehemently pro-life.”
Before making The Drop Box, he thought being a good person was what it meant to be a Christian. But, in Lee, Ivie saw Christianity at work. He told me, “Pastor Lee didn’t pity the children or endure them; he really likes these kids — no matter what they offered him or if they could offer him anything at all. I would wonder, ‘Man what is motivating him? Who is this man?’ He just seemed otherworldly, but it was attractive. I wasn’t scared of him. I wanted to be like him. I wanted what he had.”
As Ivie said, “The film is a love letter from the Father to the world. I hope that people get a look at what God’s love is really like.”
Lori Hadacek Chaplin
writes from Idaho.