Turkish foster father of Korean war orphan dies at 91
Korean War veteran Süleyman Dilbirliği, who adopted a five-year-old Korean orphan girl during the Korean War, has died at the age of 91 in Istanbul. Dilbirliği had adopted Eunja Kim during the war and named her Ayla.
The story of Dilbirliği and Ayla came to prominence recently after director Can Ulkay told their story in the movie titled “Ayla,” which is Turkey’s foreign-language Oscar nominee.
After the gala of the movie in Istanbul in November, Ayla went to hospital to visit Dilbirliği, her godfather.
“Ayla” received awards at international film festivals including the Asian Pacific Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Cape Town International Film Festival.
Dilbirliği, who had been under treatment at the Haydarpaşa Numune Research and Training Hospital since Nov. 12, died of multiple organ failure on Dec. 7.
“The overall condition of our patient deteriorated over the past week and our veteran died of organ failure despite all the medical efforts over the last 24 hours,” the hospital said in a statement.
Turkish troops served under UN command during the 1950-53 war and 774 Turkish soldiers were killed.
Ayla has been nominated as Turkey's entry for Best Foreign Language Movie in next year's Oscars.