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.


June 2, 2010

Tribute to Dennis Hopper

By my best friend- Nick Nicholson

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Dennis Hopper dead at 74

Image: Dennis HopperDennis Hopper dead at 74

Dennis Hopper



Matt Sayles / AP file
Dennis Hopper is seen in 2008, before he was diagnosed with cancer.
TODAY news services
updated 5/29/2010 10:22:00 AM
LOS ANGELES — Hollywood actor Dennis Hopper, best known for directing and starring in the 1969 cult classic "Easy Rider," died on Saturday at his home in Venice, California, from complications of prostate cancer, a friend told Reuters. Hopper was 74.
The hard-living screen icon died at 8:15 a.m. PT, surrounded by family and friends, said the friend, Alex Hitz. The two-time Oscar nominee, who appeared in more than 100 films, last March got a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, saying he came to Hollywood from his native Kansas at 18, "so that was my college." "Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from Hollywood," he said. "This has been my home and my schooling."

"Easy Rider," regarded is one of the greatest films of American cinema, helped usher in a new era in which the old Hollywood guard was forced to cede power to young filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.
The low-budget blockbuster, originally conceived by Fonda, introduced mainstream moviegoers to pot-smoking, cocaine-dealing, long-haired bikers.

"We'd gone through the whole '60s and nobody had made a film about anybody smoking grass without going out and killing a bunch of nurses," Hopper told Entertainment Weekly in 2005. "I wanted 'Easy Rider' to be a time capsule for people about that period."

Hopper and Fonda were joined on screen by a then-unknown Jack Nicholson as an alcoholic lawyer, but it was not a harmonious set. Hopper clashed violently with everyone and Fonda later described him as a "little fascist freak." Their friendship was destroyed.
Hopper fell ill last September. He continued working almost to the very end, both on his cable TV series "Crash" and on a book showcasing his photography. But his final months were also consumed by a bitter divorce battle with his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy.
Indeed, his private life was never dull. His marriages included an eight-day union in 1970 with Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas, who later told Vanity Fair that she was subjected to "excruciating" treatment.
Hopper is survived by four children.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Posted by Nick Nicholson at 1:51 PM
**************************************************************
“KWB remembers meeting Dennis”
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Dennis, in black shirt and tiger stripe jungle pants, as photojournalist at Col. Kurtz’s Compound…greets the PBR with Capt. Williard

The Korean War Baby remembers his first meeting with Dennis Hopper, his idol and that of every freedom loving “wanna be a longhair hippie freak” high school student in the ‘60s. Dennis arrived early in time to witness a special Night Mission Attack by the Ifugao tribesmen, former headhunters of Central Luzon.

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During the filming of “Apocalypse Now” by July, 1976, I had been helping to train the Ifugao tribesmen from the Mountain Province up in northern Luzon, the main big island of the Philippines. Director Francis Coppola wanted them to look like they had been trained into a Striker Force, one of the Special Forces led mercenary units that responded to “Over the Fence” ops under the MACV-SOG.
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The Ifugao were a proud tribe, one of many that had resisted Lowlanders, and foreign armies for centuries. The Spanish for over 300 years, the Americans, then briefly the Japanese occupation troops, then the national Philippine Army all were unsuccessful in subduing the hardy mountain people who were famous for the Banaue Rice Terraces. (See Steve Rogers Facebook for great mountain adventures).



DSC_0345During the time after the Typhoon (Didang) the movie sets had to be repaired from extensive damage. Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna Province, southeast of Manila, was to become a major location for the film crew, actors, production crew. We took over the town but Nick Nicholson has a much better memory and has posted on these details. But I digress.
With a couple of American crew who were also veterans, we trained the Ifugao boys and men to look like Striker Companies of the Central Highlands Montagnard tribes who fought against their enemies the lighter skinned Vietnamese. The ‘Yards were looked down as inferior and wild headhunters, uncivilized compared to the Annamese people.



D'Ifugao The Ifugao men were split up into two companies, organized into three and four platoons, with squad leaders, platoon leaders, company commanders, etc. One company was the Native Weapons Company, with spears, crossbows, bolos (machetes of the Ifugaos), even blowguns. They were dressed in native dress of the Montanyards, mostly black with red trim, Loinclothes and long sleeve shirts.
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The Main Striker Company, was dressed in various uniforms of Tiger Stripe Camo, Marine Camo, Korean, Vietnamese Par as, even Black Pajamas of the Viet Cong.



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Dennis raised himself up and almost blocked me!
They were armed with M-16, AK-47, M14, some World War II weapons, M3 Greaseguns, M1 Garands, M1 Carbines, .45 autos, hell we even had some French weapons like Matt machinepistols, plus several M-60 'Hog' machineguns! I had them doing patrols, infantry tactics, from squad, platoon, company manuevers.
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Dennis was given a chance by Francis Coppola, after enduring a period of being ‘blacklisted’. Being a ‘method actor’ for several weeks Dennis DID NOT Shower or have his costume cleaned and he was RIPE. One day several of us, led by 2nd A.D. Larry Franco, grabbed him and threw him into the swimming pool at the Pagsanjan Rapids Hotel


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They learned fast and were very disciplined, and we planned a major night mission, splitting up the force into defensive force at the Dou Long Bridge set, and a combined attack by land and sea by the attacking force. I led the Sea borne attack group, we made our approach silently, moving past houses until we were in position within thirty meters.
The Land force made contact right on time on the south perimeter, just on time. They had traveled by truck to one kilometer from the base and were to create probes at many points as diversions.
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Our smaller Special Assault Force of 30 men were to be taken by Boatmen who plied the Pagsanjan Falls Rapids in Banca dugouts.
Michael Elliot-Background artist in Banca, Pagsanjan Rapids Hotel in background. Thanks, Michael for posting this on Facebook.





We would land on the smaller river which led to the Do Long Bridge set, several hundred meters down river and move through Coconut fields until we reached the north perimeter. The boatmen brought us to a place we had scouted several days before. We would penetrate the outer wire (we took big wire cutters) then throwing colored smoke grenades, launch our attack and “capture the flag” at the Command Post. Everything depended on our moving undetected and not getting, well, lost in the coconut field.


220px-Viet_Cong_soldier_DD-ST-99-04298 We bypassed all the houses and only one dog barked at us. In total darkness all my men arrived and spread into three groups. Noise discipline was very good and the noise of the southern groups firing and yelling was great cover. My two M-60 medium Machinegun crews set up on each end of the line, several men were armed with “Bloopers” M-79 40mm Grenade Launchers with FLARES.


CONTACT!! The south perimeter began slowly with a few ‘shots’ then built into a crescendo of bursts of AK-47 and M-16 fire with one M-60 blasting through without let up. I urged the men forward and we cut the wire and pour inside with several ladders to throw on top of the next line of wire.
I checked to my left and right,I was to give the signal, two short bursts with my AK-47 Chicom assault rifle. Of course I had test fired and checked my ammo for two magazines of BLANK ammo. We had not been detected yet and my men were lined up, read to attack, waiting for MY SIGNAL.


All of us had already taken our ‘safety off” down all the way for single fire, but I was set on automatic, only one position down. I squeezed the 300px-Rifle_AK-47trigger.
Nothing but a "CLICK". “Shit! Dud!! I immediately reached over and jacked back the bolt with my left hand, slamming another round into the chamber, AND squeezed AGAIN.
The sounds of "Click, CHA Chack..Click" filled the night in a momentary bit of silence. I screamed "Fire!! Moses, FIRE!!'



MSGTMosesMoses-My Sergeant Major and main interpreter.


Moses fired his AK-47, also set for Automatic, firing the entire magazine of 28 blank rounds. Everyone around me began to fire their weapons and advance.
On the THIRD round MY DAMN AK-47 fired perfectly. I had test fired before but had TWO Duds misfire in a row. Unbelievable luck.
We executed a perfect assault over the inner wire, using the wide bamboo ladders, and the special effects were firing flares and even blowing up some “Black powder/cork” effects. We had some over zealous Ifugaos using rifle butt techniques but no major injuries happened.
We had seized the flag and finally settled down as I assembled all of my men proudly, I ordered “Sgt. Major Moses to do a “Head count” to make sure we had not ‘lost any one in the dark.’ Lights flooded the area, to reveal quite a few “Guests” from the production staff and some familiar faces.


Dennis Hopper
was with the actors and staff who were observing. He came up to us. Dennis,
“Are you in charge? Yeah? Who was going, CLICK-CLICK? Was that you?"
I had to sheepishly admit to him, “Uh…Yes, that was me. I had two DUDS.” Dennis interrupted me, “I am gonna call you Click-Click from now on.” Oh, wonderful I thought.


That was my introduction to Dennis Hopper, who called me Click-Click for the longest damn time. We smoked a few ‘herbs’ a few times on the set, and I showed him how we used a “Blooper”, opened up, a cooling tube for the ‘shotgun method’ of inhaling ‘Thai Sticks’. One day Dennis did not know that the schedule had changed and he was totally trashed on some hard stuff. I think we did over 70 takes that day, Francis and Dennis were discussing with ‘some animation’ by the 45th take. It was the longest day other than the infamous USO Show with the Playmates. That is for another day…
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Dennis Hopper
One of the Great Actors of Film. Hope to see up there, brother.
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“Take no SHIT!”

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