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.


March 10, 2010

A long struggle for Multicultural Stars


[Third in a series on Korea’s muticultural future] A rising number of multicultural entertainers reflect a changing industry - and nation
As a Multicultural person, who also worked in B-Movies when he was a younger man…He salutes these Korean-Others artists who have blazed the trail and even today are facing the lingering prejudice. Yet, slowly, a new younger generation is growing up that is moving to accept them. THIS IS GREAT!! BUT THERE IS MUCH MORE TO GO…
Korean War Baby- Don Gordon Bell
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March 09, 2010
 A long struggle for multicultural stars - INSIDE JoongAng Daily
At 20 years old, Kim In-soon had a beautiful voice, but she eked out a living singing at pubs. Then one night, a producer heard her perform, and her life in show business began. She debuted as a member of the female trio the Hee Sisters, and became part of Korea’s first archetypical “girl group.”

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In spangle-studded dresses and form-fitting spandex, the trio stole the hearts of many male fans, but Kim was forced to put on an extra piece of clothing every time she appeared with the group: a hat or handkerchief to hide her hair.

The KWB attended Insooni’s Concert two years ago. It was da Bomb! What an entertainer!







insooni_2

Kim, who goes by her stage name Insooni, is the daughter of a Korean mother and an African-American soldier, and her mixed heritage gave her darker skin, a face that stood out and intensely curly hair. Because of her appearance she was often banned from appearing on TV shows, and she was denied the chance to participate in an international singing competition as a representative of Korea. Yet, today, she is still one of the country’s most influential musicians.

Insooni’s mother Yang-bae passed away in 2005. When Kim was born, her mother’s family forced her either to abandon her child or be disowned. Kim Yang-bae chose her daughter.

When it came time to give birth to her own daughter in 1993, Insooni flew to the United States to ensure she would be an American citizen. The singer has publicly said that she did this because she was afraid her child would have the same dark skin that caused her so much pain. While other mothers may count the number of their babies’ fingers or toes right after they are born, Insooni checked her daughter’s skin color.

Ten years later, camera flashes splattered across the face of another beautiful young woman as she cried her eyes out. “If I had come out and said that I’m mixed, I was afraid of being discriminated against,” actress Lee Yu-Jin told reporters in May 2003.

leeyoojin It had come to light that Lee’s name was listed on her grandfather’s family register, not her father’s, making Lee and her mother sisters on paper. At this press conference Lee, then 26, confessed her long-held secret - that her father was an American of Spanish descent who served as a soldier here.


After the press conference, it took Lee, who was a regular on many hit TV sitcoms, dramas, shows and glossy magazine covers, nearly six years to come back to a major TV drama last year.
daily1009-17_20011009160324 When the JoongAng Daily asked to interview Lee, her manager, Kil Jin,  said, “She’s had enough of it. She doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. I’m so sorry.”
The continuing pain Lee is experiencing shows that, despite the progress that has been made in Korean society, the issue of discrimination against multicultural people is far from resolved.




Hey Girl, you look hot! To hell with 'em, keep your head up!




Sean Richard-The handsome young actor talked openly about how his mother and father met. “My mom immigrated to the States at 17, and she worked at a bank in L.A. and my dad was working in L.A. with a one-year work contract. My mom’s roommate was dating my dad’s roommate.”

Lee_yu_jin_SeanRichard 
After majoring in business and theater at Boston University, Richard came to Korea hoping to learn more about his mother’s country, and landed the role of Allen. It was his first audition for a professional role, and he had more than 100 competitors. The doctor’s character is based on an actual figure who arrived in Korea in 1884 as a missionary and established the very first Western hospital in Korea.
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Sasha Yoon Mi Rae interview of why she was out of the scene for 4 years. In English!! Gotta get her DVD's, her music vid's are Rockin'!!

R&B singer and rapper, Yoon Mi-rae, born Natasha Shanta Reid, is also trying to keep the focus off her cultural identity. She has an African-American father.
An official from Jungle Entertainment, which represents Yoon, said, “She feels uncomfortable talking about [her background].” But Yoon, often called Korea’s best female rapper, does communicate about her ancestry - through her music. One song titled “Black Happiness” has lyrics that read, loosely translated into English, “People finger-pointing at my mommy / My poppy is an African-American soldier / I can see sadness in Mommy’s eyes / I feel guilty so I wash my face with white soap .?.?. I have to put white makeup on to hide my dark skin.”

Yoon debuted in 1997 at age 15 as a member of the hip-hop and R&B group Uptown. Today she’s a superstar with many releases under her belt. She is currently working on her fourth solo album, coming to stores in May.
There has certainly been a shift in attitude toward multicultural entertainers in Korea over the past several decades, from Insooni to Lee Yu-jin, and most recently Richard.
08224116  Yoon Su-il, a multicultural singer who often performed with Insooni during the 1970s, agrees.
yoonsooilI think this nation is becoming a multicultural society, and viewers and the public accept multicultural entertainers without hard feelings, meaning people start to see them as their neighbors,” said the 55-year-old singer-songwriter, whose 1982 hit “Apartment” is still a favorite for many Koreans.
For Yoon, who was born to a GI father and a Korean mother, music was his sole consolation. “Growing up, I kept thinking, ‘Can I go on living like this in Korea?’ because of my different looks. So I grabbed a guitar and got into the music industry because that field was less closed to people like me.”

Today, Korea has more multicultural entertainers than ever before. Heartthrob Daniel Henney, Julien Kang, Dennis Oh, Ricky Kim and Kim Deanna are all multicultural stars who often appear in TV commercials, musicals and dramas.
RickyKim_ Ricky Kim
JulianKang_DanielHenney Julien Kang_Daniel Henney

In this new wave of multicultural stars, Daniel Henney may have been the first to prove they no longer need to feel alienated as Insooni and Yoon did.
Henney, who was born to a Korean-American adoptee mother and a British-American father, made his first appearance in the 2005 hit TV drama “My Lovely Sam-soon,” playing the part of Dr. Henry Kim. His good looks, gentle manner and sunny smile were enough to melt the hearts of many female viewers.
HOWEVER, just last month at Seoller New Year family gathering, the KWB met a cousin of his government official (with a gun) wife. He explained to him about the Name Card, Mother Korean and Father-Spanish/Mexican/Apache), while we were cheering on the Korean Short Track Ice-skating team at the Vancouver Olympics.
You know I am a HonHyulAh (혼혈아) like Daniel Henney.” Wife’s Cousin frowned and scowled, “I hate that guy, think he is really something. SheeBal!” “Yeah, Korean women seem to like him though…I heard...say he is handsome.” This really set him off, but the next race was coming up to draw his attention away from ranting about ‘Half-Breeds who take their women’ syndrome. Apparently, cousin did not put 2 + 2 together that the Korean War Baby’s name card was talking about HIM, because his prejudice was showing. This is typical of the racism against any “OTHER’s” who dates Their women. One would think that “cousin” having lived 9 years in New York City would be less intimidated by Daniel Henney. But alas, not so.
YOU SEE? THE KOREAN WAR BABY IS NOT MAKING THIS UP. The country has  a LONG WAY to go, but things are looking up!!! Thanks to all the New Mixed-Blood, oh have to be PC, Multicultural Korean Artists/Musician/actors. The KWB salutes you all. Semper Fi!


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