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.


September 17, 2009

War Bus-Best Part

The IMDb logo.Image via Wikipedia
warbus_vhs_front2_thumb[1]
“War Bus”  released on DVD
_0001 (3)BBMy role in “War Bus” was perhaps my best chance to show my acting skills in a dramatic role rather than action. I had nothing to do with writing the screenplay or military advice. I disavow responsibility for this, only for my bad acting. I did not play a Leading Role, but was in the Main Cast. Italian Director Ferdinando Baldi and a small Italian crew came to do a co-production with Regal International Films.




From IMDb-2009-07-05 16-22-42This is a surprisingly solid, low budget Vietnam flick that boasts some excellent battle scenes and a plethora of big and beautiful pyrotechnic displays throughout.
The plot concerns a small group of people who are forced to flee
from their base (which happens to be a Christian Mission) in an old school bus when the VC launch a vicious assault upon it. Along the way they are joined by a group of three battle hardened American US Recon Marines,  and together they desperately fight to make it to safety.
Whilst admittedly not particularly ambitious plot wise, it's the action that counts here and as previously stated, the film really delivers the goods in this department. It's especially great also to see the actors doing their own stunts including some stylish tumbling moves.”
Review on IMDb (Internet Movie Database)
Another review:
  “On the surface Warbus appears to be a standard boring Italian Vietnam war flick, but in actual fact, and to my surprise, it turned out to be hilarious.

Ever watched an action WarBus_CU1movie where the heroine ignores the hero and cops off with a middle aged man? Or a movie where the hero has to use reading glasses to operate a radio? How about a main character who suffers from epilepsy, drinks too much, is a voyeur, pervert, gun toting, AND married to a cheating Missionary wife?
Warbus has it all, full of action, explosions,  It's relatively well directed too, and the dubbing is competent for a late-era Italian genre movie. The action scenes seem to have more extras than your average Nam flicks, although no effort has been made to conceal the obviously Phillipino actors.

Well, you get the gist, these were B-movies that someone once said were “so awful they’re good” by Andrew Leavold, an Aussie who has a great blog on the genre of Filipino films here: BambooGodandBionicBoys

“Pulp Fiction”, “Kill Bill”, are just bigger budget versions that made it at the box office. The video craze created a market for films like Warbus, many never were even released in theaters until after they were released in Video. What a way to make a living though! Of course, hindsight is 20/20, things looked better looking back. There were also ‘starving actor days’ in between large foreign productions. It was this reason that caused me to start collecting drunk foreigners on the Streets of Passion, Mabini and Del Pilar, where 800 bars served the needs of the depraved. In the north, Angeles City catered to the needs of the huge US Air Force base. On the west coast the Subic Bay Naval base had its own ‘Red Light’ districts.

image image image
*Note: most of these bars were moved to Angeles City where the depravity continues with sex tours bringing in huge amounts of cash.

I began to be asked to get foreigners to be extras on local film productions soon after Apocalypse Now and Boys of Company C had finished. I was known as Ken Metcalfe’s assistant during these projects and thus began my days as an “Talent Agent for Film Extras”. I would only charge ten percent for each man/woman because I got the company to pay me an extra ten percent.  An extra got only 150 pesos per day, 250 if he had “lines as a bit player” on local film productions.

image In those days San Miguel Beer was less than 2 pesos at a Sari-Sari neighborhood store, (at 7.5 pesos/1$ it was about 20 cents US). Today even with inflation it is about, well, let’s see, 50 pesos/1$ and cost of a San Miguel Beer is according to Nick Nicholson 19 pesos or  40 cents US.

WarBus_CaughtWithExtraGas
Caught by the South Vietnamese Major, after pouring extra fuel from a hidden cache which I did not reveal.

Coming soon: War Bus-What happened to Don?
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