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.

September 5, 2009

Guerrilla Film Artiste

Guerilla Artists

Guerilla Filmmaking-“The lowest-budget sector of them all is what is known as “guerrilla” film-making, where one or two or a handful of individuals accumulate their financial resources, perhaps aided by outside investment, seek out the free or greatly discounted use of equipment and facilities, get cast and crew to work for deferred payments, “profit-shares” or extremely low wages, and use free locations rather than expensive film studios. With their minuscule budgets, the film-makers produce their epics, often under highly adverse circumstances.”

“In fact, you never got any lead!” Do you think it was because you were of Korean descent and ‘other’ mixed-heritage?” French film site, Naranland{}

Of course, my mixed heritage limited me to certain roles, I realized that from the beginning. Ken Metcalfe made that clear to me from the beginning, saying that is just the way it is in the international film business. The leads had to be white Caucasians in order to fool third world audiences that the movie was truly a western made film. But, “Oh, Mon Dieu, pardon moi…No Leading roles? I actually did three, though one was just a Filipino film. So please, give me a break! Just a little respect, Si Vous Plait, mon amies.” In “The Five-Style Fists” (1978), (see .jpg file), starring Ann Villegas, Allan Shishir, Joon Yong Su -alias Don Gordon, Boy Fernandez, and Jack Lee. I was the main Contra-vida Lead as the “Eagle Claw Master”, using my Korean name, Joon Yong Su (wrong spelling). It was written and directed by Leonardo C. Pascual and produced by Abella Pascual. Jack Lee and I were “loaned” to the Pascual producers by Mr. Lim, before “Bruce’s Fists of Vengeance” (1979) was filmed with Bruce Le and Jack Lee the following year. It was sold internationally but I guess did not make it to DVD listings.

My next Lead was in a Regal Films production as the lecherriegil090408-bigading man of Cherie Gil, in a comedy called, “Wanted: Wives!” I knew Cherie from her brother Michael Gil in several action films. The whole Gil family were actors I remember. Cherie saw me at a late night party when “Crazy Don” went swimming nude in the pool first, then many others disrobed and jumped in. Cherie seemed surprised that I had heard about the film “Wanted: Wives” had already been cast with an American that I DonGordonPlaysCGLeadingMan_AAknew. He was signed on by a rival talent agent, ‘Peter’ (Alias), who was to have a great impact on my life in 1985. I told Cherie that I wished that I “looked more White”, she laughed and asked me why? I replied that then I could have been cast for the love scene with her. She thought I was so sweet and crazy for the ‘skinny dipping’ in the pool. Two days later, I received a call from the producer that Cherie had insisted that I be her LEADING MAN.

We filmed on location in beautiful Cebu with Gina Alajar playing her DonGordonPlaysCGLeadingMan_BBcousin. Cherie’s skin color is light brown, so her character thinking it would be better to send a picture of her “lighter complexioned cousin” to a Lonely Hearts Club for meeting foreign men. My character comes unannounced to Cebu and the two cousins try to fool me that Gina is really Cherie. The real boyfriend Gina Alajarof ‘Gina’ blows the secret, the truth comes out and everything turns out, there is a double wedding at the end of the movie. My comment about “wishing I looked more White” made Cherie realize THAT was the theme of the comedy! Reel life imitating Real life.

On Filipino television shows I appeared on “Colorful World of Nora Aunor” as the boyfriend of Vivian Valdez, another boy meets girl through letter writing. Vivian does not mention that she is confined to a wheelchair but when I arrive to meet her it is another ‘fairy tale ending’! I have also had appearances as a character actor with Filipina actresses Gina Alajar, Alma Moreno, Susan Roces, Pilar Pilapil, Alicia Alonzo, Nora Aunor, Gloria Diaz, Ann Villegas, Vilma Santos, Yehlen Catral, Claudia Zobel, Lorna Tolentino, and Sharon Cuneta. I also appeared with Filipino actors such as Dolphy, Fernando Poe, Eddie Garcia, Philip Gamboa, Romeo Vasquez, Rey Malonzo, Dick Israel, Mark Gil, Michael Gil, Bembo Roco, Usually I was the “American Friend, boyfriend, or some Ugly American type”. I do not have a complete listing of all the “bit parts” or “guest roles” that I did in the Filipino film industry. It is amazing that I, a person who looked so much like a Filipino, appeared as an “American” in so many films.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Korean War Baby! I accidently came across your site and after reading it and then seeing your name..It dawned on me who you were!! I did not put your names together until now. I want to thank you for your comment you had left for me on my site! And for following it as well. Your story is fascinating and touching. I want to tell you that my husband is also a MARINE!! I hope you do not mind but I will put your blog on my blogroll. Take care!