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.


December 6, 2009

Hollywood Discovers Korea's Talented Actors | Newsweek Movies | Newsweek.com

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Korean pop superstar Rain in character as Raizo in Warner Brothers' 'Ninja Assassin'
"In the late 1990s a Korean wave washed over Asia. From TV soap operas and movies to pop music, the region couldn't get enough of Korean culture and its good-looking stars. But the wave never quite reached the American entertainment industry. At most, Hollywood embraced the remake of several Korean films—including The Lake Houseand, more recently, The Uninvited.

Lately, however, ethnic Korean actors have started to gain traction in American film and TV. Kim Yunjin and Daniel Dae Kim broke through when they were cast in Lost in 2004, followed by Sandra Oh in Grey’s Anatomy and James Kyson Lee in Heroes


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Daniel Henney                               

This year Korean-American heartthrob Daniel Henney appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as the villainous Agent Zero, and now stars on the new CBS medical drama Three Rivers.

The Korean War Baby is very pleased on Daniel Henney's IMDb skyrocketing career. His best role was in "My Father" Daniel and Aaron Bates Interview.

Daniel did a fantastic job with many very emotional heavy dramatic scenes. The KWB knows a bit about the film business because he was 'in the film business' as well, though, only B-movie Character actor and stuntman. Usually he was one of the bad guys, goons, thugs, not handsome like Daniel to he loved to do the crazy mad type roles. 

"Lee Byung-hun took on the role of Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. And John Cho, who played Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek, is currently starring as an FBI agent in ABC's drama FlashForward.

Jeong Ji Hoon, a.k.a. Rain, a pop superstar in much of Asia but still little-known on the global stage. Rain appears in the lead role of the latest big-budget martial-arts thriller, Ninja Assassin, starring Jeong as the title character.

Asian actors in the U.S. are still often typecast as martial-arts experts. "Stereotype does still exist when casting films," says Rain. "Asians have our own broad and unique culture; it's just that more people have been interested in the martial-arts side than others."
The KWB always knew that stereotypes would limit the major roles but by creating their own ‘characters’ and props, they made interesting roles.
Hollywood Discovers Korea's Talented Actors | Newsweek Movies | Newsweek.com


No business like Show Business!

 


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The KWB had many different ‘faces' and worked from 1976-1985 in Filipino and international films shot on location in the Philippines and Hong Kong. He would be proud to have Daniel Henney, whose mother was a also a Korean adoptee in 1958, play him in a biographic film about the Korean War Baby (In the KWB dreams). Makeup, facial hair, various hairstyles would make him perfect for the many faces of the KWB.Don Gordon Bell



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Of course the KWB was only a B-movie character actor in action, war drama, comedy, and some say that some of these low budget flicks were 'so bad they were good.' His friends continue on to this day, 'In the business'. Andrew Leavold Blog address has immortalized us for cyberhistory. Andrew has painstakingly put together commentary on bamboo gods and bionic boys

It was a great time and many of his friends stayed on in the Philippines with impressive film credits. Such as Nick Nicholson and Nick's blog on his incredible but true to life tales of our escapades, Henry Strzalkowski who just directed a music video last month, Romano Kristoff, Steve Rogers who now runs a business in Sagada for white water rafting and trekking, Bill Kipp who coined the phrase "Pigs in Space", James Gaines, Mike Monty, Bruce Baron, and so many more. Yes, our Cadre helped teach and prepare men and women from all over the globe to work in Filipino and International films.


 



The Korean War Baby is very happy with these developments. It is his hope that Daniel Henney might play HIM in a future film about the KWB. A comedy about the life of character actors making films in the Philippines. The stories we could tell need to be told!
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