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 14, 2009

Seoul wants you walking right!





Watch your step, Seoul wants you walking right - INSIDE JoongAng Daily

“Signs encouraging people to walk on the right on escalators and moving walkways in the capital’s subway system will displayed as part of a City Hall campaign starting on Oct. 1.”


“The move follows a plan put forward by the central government in April to revise laws related to pedestrian traffic.
The 88-year-old law requires pedestrians in Korea to walk on the left, but the government wants to change the custom in line with international practice.
According to data provided by Ministry of Land, 88.3 percent of Koreans are right-handed and 73 percent prefer to walk on the right, saying keeping to the left goes against natural human instinct.”




This is quite interesting. You see if you lived in Seoul you would have seen that many people follow NO rules for walking. Some automatically pass to the LEFT, rather than the RIGHT. Because some Koreans pass right you often see two people walk right or I should say left and they run smack dab into each other with no other people near them. They just don’t have a “cross to the right side” rule of thumb, er, foot.

This goes back to changing times, see you must remember that 88 years ago was, oh, the math…okay, 1921 which was during the Japanese occupation of Korea as a colony of the Japanese Empire from 1910-1945. Koreans walking on streets mainly follow the flow principal. If a large flow are going one way they will spread out until the few coming from the other direction are forced to single file. As the numbers increase a sort of equilibrium is reached. Usually there are only two opposing flows but I have seen four groups splitting or merging.



Confucius put it like this, “water flows around, under, over a rock in the stream”. Korean people are REALLY going to get confused with THIS new policy.


“To help pedestrians to get accustomed to the new system, the city government said it will not initiate wholesale changes at first. Less crowded subway stations will be dealt with first, from the middle of September. Under the plan, the city government will also change signs leading to ticket gates in subway stations to accommodate walkers on the right.
And direction lines that lead commuters to catch subway transfers will also be changed. To reduce confusion, helpers will be on hand near escalators and moving walkways, according to city officials.
There will also be broadcasts and banners hammering home the message for anyone who fails to comply.”


This reminds me of several times when some work was being done on the subway “moving walkways”. They reversed the direction for some reason and the number of people who tried to get on their usual LEFT side walkway was just too funny. I had to yell in Korean “Ani!! Orinjok (No, right side)” or they would have hurt themselves. There is no ‘rule’ in the subways now. Half of the subways have escalators both running UP, then the crowd flows up the center stairs making it almost impossible for anyone to come DOWN.


They changed the ‘rule’ for escalators just this year. Until then you were supposed to stand on the Right side going up or down in order for FAST MOVERS to walk quickly up or down. However, there were several cases where someone stumbled and crashed because they tripped SO, NOW they ‘rule’ is that people should NOT WALK but just STAND on BOTH SIDES. Problem is that there are some who WANT to hurry and they are cursing or AiiGooing people who are blocking their way on the left. Everyday I see problems as RULES CHANGE but not the HABITS of people.


The Korean War Baby has a new cell phone with a better video and photo functions. Stay tuned for the coming ‘subway follies’.

UPDATE: It has BEGUN, CHAOS!!!

2 comments:

  1. Funny stuff, it will be difficult for people to adjust.

    ReplyDelete
  2. oh wowzers!!! i didnt know it was that serious which side of the sidewalk, road, or escalator a person walked on. i bet it is going to be one heck of a time trying to get every one to conform or to be on one accord. def keep us posted this is going to be quite a task.

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