THIS THING OF OURS-ADOPTION

THE KOREAN WAR BABY

My name is Don Gordon BELL and I am one of the earliest of the first generation of KAD's (Korean ADoptees). The Korean War had been settled by Armistice three years before I left war-torn Seoul, Korea, on May 21, 1956. It was the first plane of twelve 'war babies' processed thru the Harry Holt Adoption Program. Read more of MY STORY on My Pages.
I grew up in a typical middle-class family of English-Scottish roots in greater Los Angeles, Ca, USA. Memories faded, Korean language was 'lost' and I did not know anything about the country of my birth until I met Korean Marines in Vietnam while serving with the US Marines. It was my first exposure to real Korean people. I was not completely aware of how prejudiced most Koreans thought towards a Half-Breed like me. I learned what "Tuigi" meant, a Korean word for a "Child of a Foreign devil". Oh, wonderful.


All my life I always had to answer the question: "What ARE you?" and I simply would tell 'my story'. It was not a big deal for me, for my Adoptive Parents had taught me that being an American meant that WE were from many countries. I never 'wished to be White' and just learned to stand up for my own identity. MY Identity was as an American, with mixed heritage. I did not know what being "Korean" meant but often wondered about my roots, and what my birth father's ethnicity. Mexican, Native Americans, and Spanish people would tell me that I had their 'genes' for sure. Little did I know they were right!

After college, I traveled to Manila and for ten years I lived in the Philippines. I was excepted as a 'mestizo' and fit into the former Spanish colony. I was a B-movie Character Actor,
working on international and local films, enjoying a 'crazy and wild' abandonment. Then a life changing experience gave me faith in a personal Higher Being. After walking away from the film business, I lived back in the USA, not sure of my direction in life finding work in construction, finish carpentry, door hanging, and many other jobs I'd like to forget.

In 1991, at 38, I attended a Holt Heritage Camp that was a great experience and really began my own journey of Adoption Identity search. I had never thought much of my Korean culture, though I always felt proud of being "HALF-Korean" and "half-Something".

In 1994 I came back to Seoul, Korea, with my church Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and was invited to stay with a church in East Seoul, for one year. I have lived here since late 1995- re-discovering my "Korean-ness", teaching English and telling my Adoption Story to thousands of Korean students of all ages, helping their understanding of Korean Adoptees. It is one of the issues that Korea is now facing, even for its own secretly adopted children, those who were adopted IN-Country by Koreans who desired a family but due to problems with Infertility secretly adopt.

I was a charter member in 1997 (first dozen members) of GOA'L (Global Overseas Adoptees' Link, founded by Ami Nafzger) and continue to be involved with the complex issues of This Thing of Ours-Adoption. Thousands of KADs have visited Korea over the years, searching for their culture and Some search for birth family. Seventy-five thousand have come, yet only 2,400 plus have found Reunion with Birth family, often with varying results. There are many complexities, many don't want to search concerned about offending their Adoptive Families. Each KAD must decide what they want to do, when to do it, etc.


At 61, I am still 'working thru' my Adoption Identity. Each of YOU need to 'work through' your own understanding and hopefully find forgiveness and healing. Read many different accounts and compare before coming to conclusions. I hope that you will learn what IS happening NOW, in the land of your birth, the Rep. of Korea (South Korea). (See Report Links).

Times are changing, the reasons for 'relinquishment for adoption' have shifted, but there continues to be a need for a multi-tiered approach and understanding of Adoption issues. Slowly, attitudes of Korean society ARE changing for the better. But, the majority continue to feel embarrassment and shame. Thus, Adoption is still shrouded in secrecy even for those who are adopted In-country. There ARE positive signs and movements of NGO's and KAD groups are advocating for the Unwed Mothers. However, two-thirds of pregnant women each year, continue to give up their babies for adoption. One out of four are sent overseas, YET three are secretly adopted in-country. The Myth that "Koreans don't adopt" is false, but they need to open up and hopefully change their shame to pride.


This blog is for EVERYONE, whether you are an Adoptee, Adoptive Family, Birth Family or involved in Adoption in ANY way as a professional, social worker, official, etc, from Korea or the world. We examine the complex issues and personal journeys that we, domestic and overseas adoptees, have to face and sort out in This Thing of Ours-Adoption. (Use the Ligit Search function (Left Column) to check for Posts on various topics, TransRacial, TranCultural, MultiCultural families, Domestic, Civil Code Law Adoptions, InterCountry Adoption, etc.)
I personally have come to a compromised, nuanced position on this thing of ours-adoption. I advocate a Multi-tiered Plan that tries to be balanced, realistic, fair to all.

UPDATE: Living in the Philippines since 2010, at first teaching students from several countries as an Online Tutor, based in Makati, Metro Manila. I was working on a Digital Library for Online Tutoring or ELearning; developing an agritourism farm; and Overseas Retirement Care for foreigners needing 24/7 health care.

Then some 18 months ago, in July of 2012 I met with Andrew Leavold, a crazy film obsessed Aussie who helped "pull me back into film making".

WHEW! Lot on my plate. I have also been learning much about the Filipino society's very different viewpoints on unwed motherhood and adoption.

Latest: As of Sept. 2012, I worked on an Indie Film, "Baybayin, the Palawan Script", directed by Auraeus Solito, and international award winning Filipino director. I had a role in the film and explored my hobby as a STILLS Photographer. Currently I have quit all teaching, co-writing on an international film that will be done in 3D and CGI effects. I am back in the film-making business and I love it.

Adoption Discourse needs to hear YOUR VOICE. Every opinion, even opposing viewpoints will be posted and interaction invited by email and Comments have been activated again with spam filters!)
. Welcome, come learn, and share your thoughts.


June 25, 2009

TvN program, "Exorcist"


"The Korean War Baby searches for his natural mother on 59th Anniversary of beginning of Korean War, June 25, 1950."

Donald Gordon Bell a.k.a. JUN Yong Soo/전  용 수 Korean /全  容 秀Chinese Characters used by all Korean names (Until recently).



Well, the TVN show was on early this morning Midnite 00:00 am, actually funny because it became the 25th of June. My Korean wife noted that it was fitting that my show was on this day, because this is the 59th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, June 25, 1950. I was focused on Wed. June 24, and had not actually thought of the actual date being the Infamous invasion of the South by Communist North Korea. Korea Times noted this headline today:

57% of 20-Somethings Ignorant of Korean War By Jung Sung-ki
Staff Reporter, Korea Times at:
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/include/print.asp?newsIdx=47393

"Fifty-nine years after the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War, nearly four in 10 South Koreans aren't familiar with the tragic fratricidal war, according to a recent survey. A survey of 1,000 adults over 19, conducted by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MPAS) in April, showed that 36.9 percent of respondents said they didn't know when the Korean War had broken out. By age, 56.6 percent of those in their 20s said they didn't know when the war had occurred, while 28.7 percent of those in their 30s and 23 percent of those in their 40s said the same thing, it said. ``This is a very serious problem that more and more people, especially youngsters, are not well aware of or not interested in the Korean War, where millions of South Koreans were killed,'' an official of the Ministry of National Defense said. ``Pan-governmental efforts are required to make people understand properly about the Korean War and, in particular, educate youngsters about the war and history.''

Read the rest of the article. In the next couple of days Korean War Baby will post some Stats on the "Forgotten War" or as they call it here 6-2-5 (literally the numbers for 6, 2, 5-this is a Chinese way of remembering a significant day by the "Month/Day" method).

I was frustrated that most of the scenes were in Korean language with no (Subtitles in English). I will have to learn how to link to the TVN website.

This is a Preview of "Exorcist" program, TVN cable channel:
http://www.chtvn.com/Player/tvnPlayer.asp?prgID=10970


The Korean War Baby must withhold commenting on the program until some of his students can explain it. Apparently the show will be posted on the website of TVN next week. Now we wait again and see if someone calls in...

6 comments:

  1. Let's hope your mam has TV, and that it's switched on the right channel at the right time. Do you have any idea which province or town you need to look for? She must be in her 80's already, it's not impossible you have some half-bro's or sisters in the North or South, not spoken of more relatives in the US !!

    I'm really looking forward to a positive turn and a satisfying end of your lifetime search.

    A pig'out'of space.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Don,

    You were such a little cutie! I see the sadness in your eyes. It's a commonality I see in many Korean adoptees "baby" pictures. The preview looks riveting! I love the sound effects! More importantly, I hope someone in your birth family sees it and you are able to reunite! My thoughts and prayers are with you, My Oppa in Seoul!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Btstormb2006
    Funny story about the "Sad" look. Dr. David Hyungbok Kim was a photographer with the Katusa (Korean Agmentation Troops with USArmy)and Harry Holt's first translater. Harry put David in charge of "Holt Adoption Program", the first NGO led by a Korean young man who had not even graduated from University.
    Dr. Kim told me in 1990 that my "Happy" photo was easy. Then they tried to get me to look sad, but finally got the 'shot' by giving me candy then taking it away. Thus the 'sad and mad' look. World Vision told them they should get both shots, send the "SAD" photos then after the child was "chosen for adoption" send the "HAPPY" photo.
    Western Marketing at it's "best".

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just read something similar to that from a KAD who was recently reunited with her birth mother. So interesting! Makes me go...hmmmm!

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  5. Don Gordon BELLJuly 05, 2009

    btstormb2006
    Hmmmmm...indeed. It is a sorry fact of life that some of us are moved to pity or action based on the severity of someone's condition. I know I am guilty of this. I once saw a "Blind Korean man", not knowing or caring that I was looking at him, take off his sunglasses, separate the bills, fold up his white cane. Finished for the day! Now I know there are real blind but it makes one cynical.
    Looking back I totally realize that only Sad Faces or images of shock value moves our somewhat coldhearted minds to give money. It is a commentary on the human spirit perhaps? It not so much that we are manipulated but rather how easily we DO respond only after being "moved" by such advertising. Would my A parents have adopted or even noticed the "Happy Face" me, or chosen a more Forlorn, miserable Orphan.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think that manipulation and deceit, no matter the intended result, is still manipulation and deceit. The "ifs" in life can keep us circling or we can choose to focus on how to make the world a better place. We may not benefit directly from it, but maybe we can change it for someone else. Not sure if you can find any comfort in that right now or not. Like the Tom Petty song...The waiting is the hardest part. I am with you in spirit Don and understand what you are feeling!

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