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.

October 31, 2010

“Hunter’s Crossing” Silver Star Films

 Commandos WildGeese_poster
As some of you know, the Korean War Baby, in a past life back in the late 70’s to mid ‘80’s, as Don Gordon Bell, was living in the Philippines. I worked on local Filipino films and on many foreign International films, from big block busters like “Apocalypse Now” to small budget B-movies produced by the king of B-movies Roger Corman and quite a few Filipino film production companies. It was glorious, fun, hard work, feast or famine at times, but never a dull moment. Best years of my life, but some of the worst things I committed during my years of living only for myself, well, you will have to read my E-Book.
“Hunter’s Crossing” a B-movie film released by Silver Star Films was also released as “EinSatzkommando WildGanse” which I think means something Commando Wild Geese. My Facebook friend filmmaker Tony Li posted some photos from the DVD release in Germany. Thanks Tony.
Bruce Baron was the lead, an ex-Vietnam Vet who gets together a few buddies to rescue a rich man’s son who had been kidnapped by Filipino pirates. Philip Gamboa was the main Filipino lead, also one of the rescue team members who knew Bruce’s character when they served in an elite unit in the ‘Nam.75751_169473423078690_100000480990918_557759_474771_n Bruce Baron, Don Gordon Bell, and Jim Gaines
Jim Gaines and I played fellow Vietnam ‘war buddies’ of Bruce Baron, living in the Philippines, living the good life, whoring with beautiful (and some not quite so but very willing!) Filipina women, drinking San Miguel beer and ESQ Tanduay Rhum and cokes everyday (Playing REAL life- ourselves in REEL LIFE). We agree to join our old team leader on this crazy adventure for money and just plain boredom.
Richard Harrison 

First we go through a bit of training and conditioning, to get our soft bodies in shape for a rescue mission.


Don, sliding along a rope requires a ‘cup protector’ to prevent injury!


“HOW much are we getting? Why not, got nothing better to do.”HuntersCrossing_DGBell3
This was a VERY low budget B-movie that had a simplistic story, made up by lots of big booms, tons of special effects, gasoline blasts, dozens of pirates killed, and ‘all the usual schlock factors’ that one pundit claims makes these films “so bad they are good”. My dialog in the whole films could be on 3 pages of script, no wait, I don’t think we even HAD a script, just a basic storyline.
David Light played the pirate leader of the gang. Philip Gamboa was the Filipino who served with us together in the ‘Nam. He knows the island stronghold, where the pirates are since he is a native.
David Light, pirate leader.
Years later, “life imitated art”, when Filipino pirates actually kidnapped tourists, beheading one of them on their own island stronghold in Jolo, off Mindinao in the southern part of the Philippine Islands.
PhilipGamboa_JimGaines Team members Philip Gamboa, Jim Gaines.

Yes, I died again…going down fighting to the bitter end. I think the rest survive, rescue the boy and remember me in a toast to fallen comrades. Ah, ‘show biz’…

October 28, 2010

“My Mongolian Mother”

Best Film from PIFF, in my opinion-

"My Mongolian Mother"

Asian Media "My Mongolian Mother" TRAILER

The Korean War Baby thinks this was one of the best films. Dealing with the complex issues facing the Communist Party decisions were made that made sense at the time. In the '60s China experienced severe drought and famine that killed millions. Thousands of children were single and double orphans, or just abandoned by their destitute family members that survived but were unable to feed them. The State sent 3 thousand orphans from the streets of Shanghai to Inner Mongolia, to be adopted into the Nation. One group traveled by train to a community of simple herdsmen.

One of the central characters, Fu Sheng narrates his and other orphans stories, of their upheaval and loss of family. They find themselves packed onto a train, an orphan train on a long one way trip away from the city of Shanghai to the grassland Steppes. The film does not blame the system but explores the consequences and trials of some older children adjusting to such a complete change of life. For Fu Sheng it takes a while before he chooses to accept his Mongolian Mother.

The children are assembled in groups and the simple herdspeople go among them, choosing the children by affinity, children and parents drawn together. Everything is well documented by the community council though. Even the reasons for adopting was processed and carefully decided for the well-being of the children. (It seems that the Communist Party also supported the 'institution of adoption' as a solution to the social problems caused by the great famine.)

DSC08072 The boy's birth mother had been forced to tricked him, then left him alone in the open market. He was confused, fearful, and shocked, realizing that she did this on purpose. He is turned over to policemen and then into an orphanage run by the State.

How many other young children harbor such deep wounds and have turned inward their pain and suffering into both suicidal, or outward in pent up rage. The older a child is at the moment of abandonment, the more intense the effects and though memories are often suppressed later and even forgotten, the wounded child within may continue to be affected all their lives.
"I forgot my fears and longed to enter into their arms." In the one important key sequence, the film shows Grandma singing a song to calm the baby lamb, who's own mother had been killed by wild animals, to accept milk from another mother sheep who must ‘adopt’ it. It demonstrated to the boy his own condition, that the lamb was like him, it had lost its own mother and when the lamb finally begins to suckle, the analogy hits him hard. The boy sees himself in the situation and has an epiphany moment. "I was moved by the sound of her voice" laments the boy. The boys rushes to his Mongolian Mother, embracing her finally with acceptance. This film was so powerful and touches many issues about Adoption/ searching/ reunion.

Twenty years later, the State begins to reconnect families who want to make contact with children they gave up. China is in the 80's and some families want to welcome back their children. The former orphans must deal with all the hard issues of abandoning their Mongolian identity, adoptive families, and re-enter the fast modern world of Shanghai. Some choose to move to the city, with their birth families, some are unable and hate the indifference and prejudice of Chinese towards them. They 'look' like Chinese but are dressed and act, mentally and socially they are Children of the Mongolian Nation.

For the young man, he visits his birth family (both mother and father) and his adoptive sister, even brother who have moved to the city of Shanghai. He decides though that inside him, he is Mongolian, he will make a decision to go back and be with his adoptive mother. We see some of his friends who are also dealing with these difficult choices.

This film is NOT Pro-adoption nor is it Anti-adoption but rather explores social issues that are just as valid for any cross-cultural adoption. Watch for it coming to your city in a Film Festival.

I was moved to tears many times during this powerful movie that expresses so much the Korean Adoptees own experiences in all of the Spectrum of stories, a plethora of pain but also of Love. We see many aspects of both Birth family and Adoptive family faced with the issues of Searching, Reunion, Adoption Identity. GOT TO GET SEE IT.

The Korean War Baby TOTALLY ENDORCES “My Mongolian Mother”. FIVE STARS

"How to Improve Government Welfare Services for Low-Income Unwed Mothers in Korea"

September, 2010

ARE YOU FOR THE TRUTH? Do you want to REALLY see more Unwed Mothers in Korea KEEP their babies? Even if you are FOR or AGAINST InterCountry Adoption, you need, NO you MUST read this and other reports from KWDI. This report is provided by KWDI together with Korean Unwed Mother's Support Network.

Adoption - Adoptive Families

“Adoptive Families” presents an incredible source for everything about adoption for Prospective Adoptive Parents and those with adoptive children already. Just one of many websites that help provide help for “getting it done better”, the wide range of articles give constructive and practical information.

Adoption - Adoptive Families



In This Thing of Ours-Adoption the focus usually is on the Adoptee, and birth family, however, the Adoptive Families are the other main part of the Adoption Triad. Beyond the AT is also all the others, Adoption Professionals, Social Workers, Government Officials, U.N. and Hague Convention experts and personel, etc.

Again, from my own viewpoint, Adoption itself is NOT the best nor the worst, it just is one of the Multi-tiered solutions to life’s dealings. When, for whatever reasons the birth parents/family CANNOT or WILL NOT take responsibility for a child, AND after local government has exhausted all means to do such, THEN Adoption is a viable, legal, and next best step for a child.

Some have complained that children “have a family” and are not “orphaned”. Perhaps they need to check the United Nations and HAGUE Convention terminology for “ORPHAN”.

An orphan is determined by this definition in the Bible in Hebrew and Greek:

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries:

Hebrew - 
From an unused root meaning to be lonely; a bereaved person: - fatherless (child), orphan.

In the New Testament, the Greek is found:

Of uncertain affinity; bereaved (“orphan”), that is, parentless: - comfortless, fatherless.

The issue of being fatherless was critical in most societies, but in the Jewish traditions both parental and maternal lines are important. Many verses from the Protestand and Catholic Christian Bible (Which both translate from the same texts of the Torah, Writings, and the Prophets of Judaism-the Catholic includes other books) and the Koran speak about giving help to “widows and orphans”.

It is based on the etymology of the words that UNESCO and others have based the terminology to mean both “Paternal” orphan and “Double” orphan. So it is ‘correct’ to say that a child that has been ‘given up’ by legal means or ‘parental rights’ have been surrendered by one or both parents is considered an ORPHAN.

Korean War Baby also notes this from Wikipedia for “orphan”:



Various groups use different definitions to identify orphans. One legal definition used in the United States is a minor bereft through "death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents".[3]

In the common use, an orphan does not have any surviving parent to care for him or her. However, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), and other groups label any child that has lost one parent as an orphan. In this approach, a maternal orphan is a child whose mother has died, a paternal orphan is a child whose father has died, and a double orphan has lost both parents.[4] This contrasts with the older use of half-orphan to describe children that had lost only one parent.[5]

So we see that the acceptable term ORPHAN is based on the original meaning of the Hebrew and Greek. It DOES mean a child with ONE or BOTH parents who have died, or given up parental rights. Hague Conventions also use the broad meaning to determine the status of a child. Look here for more:

UN Guidelines for alternative care of children

In the case of Abandonment, with no legal papers, a child is considered an orphan. In modern times however, care should be taken to search for any child through media, internet, police records, etc. before the child is processed for adoption.

We must try to do it better. One day, hopefully, the Republic of Korea (also known abroad as South Korea) will sign and follow the Hague Conventions for ALL Domestic and InterCountry Adoptions. They will also increase the support for the Unwed Mothers of Korea who DO choose to keep and raise their babies. The KWB supports a Multi-tiered approach to the issues of This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

NEXT: The Korean Women’s Development Institute’s latest report on “How to Improve Government Welfare Services for Low-Income Unwed Mothers”.


Blog highlight-The Unknown Misfit: His Daughter’s Words

 I came across this only couple of weeks ago and immediately liked what I read. Raw, gritty, ‘shooting from the hip’ style of writing, the blogger shares their emotions and thoughts with ‘no holds barred’.

“This is a collaborative effort”

Who Are We?

Adult adoptees who want to speak our entire truth, even when it’s ugly and ungrateful. And also when it’s beautiful and places in between.
This blog is a collaborative effort between adoptees to create a space where we are “allowed” to explore our rage in an environment where we will not be chastised for being ungrateful or fucked up for being really pissed off about our experiences as adoptees.
We wish to create a place where it is safe to present real and raw representations of adopted lives lived. We want to acknowledge that we all have levels and places of love and gratitude within our adoption experiences, but where and when do we truly get to express our rage without judgment? We are interested in building community and healing through creative expression, transforming our fear of attachment into action, and reclaiming our authentic voices, the ones that have been silenced by the fear of losing family and home.
We invite adoptees who wish to be part of this community to submit their original work for publication on this blog. All rights will be retained by the author. Please send all submissions to
a-m-baker A. M. Baker write about her life in this post. “The Unknown Misfit: His Daughter’s Words”. She went through a personal hell and came back from the brink of mental disorder, perhaps inherited from her bio-father, that hit her when she turned 19 years old.
In this post she speaks about both her birthmother and birth father and ponders about their genetic connections passed on through blood. Pragmatic, gutsy, well-written, her artistic ability as a writer is evident in her posts. Worth checking out, where ever you are in This Thing of Ours-Adoption.
"The Unknown Misfit: His Daughter’s Words | Bitch, You Left Me"

Again, these are not the KWB words, but in keeping the range open to hear from voices across This Thing of Ours-Adoption we present the cries of the wounded, for in a sense we were all wounded in our spirit when we were Abandoned. It is unfortunate that for some, their adoption was difficult and they are perhaps angry at their birth parents, or others, even with ourselves. Let us help each other find peace and meaning in this life. Peace and Prosperity, to all.

October 22, 2010

North Korean Refugees


“Learning to live with Freedom isn’t easy”

When North Koreans began fleeing their homes in the early 1990s, they received nationwide attention upon reaching the South. Television reports showed them at airports, wearing leis and waving awkwardly at the camera with unsure smiles.


But as their numbers swelled, they were no longer considered objects of interest but, instead, a problem to be dealt with. The South Korean government introduced laws related to defectors in 1997 and opened the Hanawon resettlement facility two years later.

The Korea JoongAng Daily was giv

en an exclusive look at Hanawon’s program for this series.

Learning to live with freedom isn’t that simple – INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily



Han Jae-suk, a 31-year-old North Korean defector, has endured an odyssey in her effort to resettle in South Korea. The journey has included living for a year and a half in the basement of the South Korean Consulate in Shenyang, China, and studying 12 hours a day in Seoul as part of her training for a new career. She has no regrets.

South Korea is facing a milestone - by next month, 20,000 North Koreans will have resettled in the South. And, with many in the South seeing unification as an inevitability, the government is taking steps to prepare for the expected stream of refugees.

Read More:

One Defector's Path


The KWB thinks that it is important for Korean Adoptees to understand the current situation, and the historical period when one was born, to fully understand the “WHY’s” of their being ‘given away for adoption’. Only by understanding both can we begin to sort out what pressures our parents, mothers, even birth family had to deal with. So many families have these ‘secrets’ that are known but just not talked about.

As Korea moves forward into the 21st Century they must deal with issues such as the prejudices of the majority of society towards “outsiders”. It was reported that by 2030 the percentage of outsiders of foreign citizenship will amount to TEN percent. The rising number of Multicultural/bi-racial children is also rising each year from Multicultural Marriages. Little by little Korea is facing these issues and hopefully will grow into acceptance. Laws can never change the hearts of man, but as the government works to help improve things, we do hope to see the day when society or most of them will also change their hearts.


The Korean War Baby hopes to see that day…but it may be after he is ‘gone’.

October 19, 2010

Jon Huston's Third Meeting with his Birthmother

Minnesota man Jon Huston, left, was connected via webcam to his birth mother in Korea. She gave him up for adoption when he was 6 because she was too poor to take care of him.
(ABC News)
Jon Huston meets his Korean birthmother for Third time. 

"The search for his birth mother took a Minnesota man more than 6,000 miles to Korea, where he was given up for adoption 37 years ago (2008). Jon Huston never imagined he'd find his way back to Korea.
"I was very nervous," he said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. It was the most nerve-racking thing to know if I would be accepted or rejected."

Huston's birth father was an American soldier who met his birth mother in Korea while stationed there. He died in combat in Vietnam. Huston's birth mother couldn't raise him on her own, so she gave him up for adoption when he was 6. Huston was adopted by a family in Buffalo, Minn. He's one of more than 20,000 (correct number) Korean adoptees living in Minnesota."

Read all the article:

ABC News story on Jon Huston (2008)
Jon point to the photo of last visit, asking about relatives.

In 2008, after Jon had spoken on Webcam to her on live Korean TV, the KBS investigators saw Jon's photo hanging on the wall. This was conclusive proof that their story was confirmed.

 KBS2 "The Person I am Longing to Find" will air in Korea next Tuesday, the 26th of Oct. They filmed and interviewed Jon in Minnesota before he arrived last week in Seoul. His mother was brought there to meet and they taped the show of their third meeting. Nancy, my wife and I, had the honor and pleasure of meeting Jon and driving him down to visit at his mother's home in Kunsan City.
Jon Huston and his birthmother outside her home.

I met Jon in Seoul then brought him back home in Ansan City, 90 min. southwest from Seoul. We left in the wee hours of Sunday morning the day after I came back from Pusan Intl. Film Festival. We arrived at his mother' home on the north part of Kunsan City, and Nancy was born just outside in a village nearby, so she and his mother bonded quickly. Jon has been there twice before, in 2008 after they had been reunited through the KBS2 television show, "The Person I am Longing to Find". Last year, in 2009 he came again for a short visit. Read more of Jon's story on his Facebook account or Google him for videos.

Looking at photo albums. With Nancy being from her hometown and knowing the local accent, spending the day we were able to ask many things and Jon learned some vital new information. 
Jon Huston, his Korean mother, Nancy Chae-Bell, and the Korean War Baby.
Eating Dok Soup, Sticky-rice tubes sliced into oblong pieces with Seaweed.

Later on in the day, Jon treated us to Korean Beef top sirloin. It was absolutely delicious!!!

Jon Huston has started a website "Korean" especially for Korean Adoptees who have reunited with Birth Family. Watch for it and add your own story if you have been reunited, or are thinking of Searching.

This site is just starting so visit often and give suggestions by emailing them.

The Korean War Baby.

Martin's Memorial

Click ABOVE for Picasa 3 Web Album link, for more photos.

Martin, regular at 3 Alley Pub, lost his battle with Japanese Encephalitis last week.

Martin's mother and his Korean wife.

Memorial at the barstool that Martin usually sat.

For more go to 3 Alley Pub Blog Martin-passed-away

We do not know the day or the hour when death takes us. We should always keep that in mind.

October 11, 2010

Pusan International Film Festival

Hae Un Dae Beach, Pusan/Busan City, in southeastern Korea.

Blogging from Pusan (now called Busan but known throughout recent history as Pusan) the Korean War Baby is proud to be here in beautiful sunny shores of HaeunDae (hay eun day) Beach. Arrived on early flight and found the PIFF center on the beach. Signed in and got tickets for first film, “Au Revoire, Taipei” which is quite far from the other four venues.
I was very impressed with the film, it is a very funny and well received by the audience. Showing at 8:30 pm it was 80% filled, and it actually started just ten minutes late. The main character, a young Chinese man, sees his girlfriend getting into a taxi and driving off, leaving on a jet plane for Paris, France. She is also Chinese and wants to explore the world. Soon text messages are not answered and the lovesick teenager decides that he must learn French and win her back.

“Taipei’s nightscape is the backdrop for this vivid genre mash-up involving the lovesick teenager, a smitten bookshop clerk, an ambitious bumbling gand, a mob boss who is thinking of love and retirement, a morose cop who all learn that dreams can indeed com true in your own backyard.” (brief description in promo)

I was indeed happy to see a good ending (NO, won’t tell you!) and recommend this for a light entertainment. Filled with likeable characters this was great family entertainment.

Producer Isabelle Stead, Dir. Mohamed AL DARAJI, of "Son of Babylon"

MONDAY-Got to get going, Will try to find a Starbucks in the Lotte Cinema, Shinsegae Dept. Store complex in Centum (yes, they forgot the “r” or is Centrum a vitamin supplement?). Then I have to rush back to the western venue 40 min. away for 3 more films! YAH.
Try to post photos later. Hmmm, did I tell All my Student’s Parents that I would be gone this week, AGAIN. I might get fired…but where would they find a likeable grandfather-type crazy funny teacher like MOI? LOL
So many choices to view. sigh.

October 8, 2010

Losing hope in South

Let’s help defectors adapt to new society


Nearly 20,000 North Korean defectors are living in South Korea. Most of them fled from hunger and oppression under the military dictatorship in pursuit of food and freedom. They risked their lives to realize their South Korean dream. No doubt the defectors have aspired to lead a decent life here.
But a question still remains to be answered: Can they really see their dream come true and do they still have much hope for a future here? It’s not easy to expect a positive answer. The reason is that they face another problem following their arrival in the South. They find it hard to adapt to a capitalist society.


Losing hope in South

The number of North Korean defectors living here stood at 19,569 at the end of August, a 10-fold increase from a decade ago. Around 42 percent of them work as day laborers with their monthly income amounting to less than 1 million won ($890). As a result, they can hardly meet their minimum living costs. No less than 60 percent of the escapees have to rely on state support for their livelihood.

North Korean defectors have been treated as third-class citizens. They have endured far worse treatment at workplaces than migrant workers from Southeast Asian countries. Some critics point to the defectors’ lack of effort to adjust themselves to the competitive capitalist society. However, the embedded cause of their hardship reflects how closed South Korean society still is to those from outside.


The Korean War Baby laments that this article again shows the unfortunate attitude of a large portion of Korean Society. Not all, but a majority of Korean people still view “outsiders” with suspicions, fears, prejudice, and just  non-acceptance in general. This is difficult for those considered NOT part of the “WooRi” or the “US/WE” concept that permeates the Confucian social structure of life in present day Korea. Globalization has only brought modern technologies but not YET openness to “outsiders”. With more than 5 percent of the population consisting of “Foreigners/outsiders” Korea needs to continue to change their hearts and minds.

Patience must be maintained as we “help the younger generation” by teaching them, meeting with them in public and private settings. Those who have just arrived may suffer cultural shock but hopefully they will toughen up, buck up, and smile and tell local folks why staring or talking about someone as though they don’t understand Korean is simply RUDE.

North Korean refugees have even attempted to leave the South after finding life here unbearable.

North Korean refugees head for home
By Andrei Lankov

Link Asian Times

Sisa Journal, an influential and well-informed South Korean weekly, recently published interesting statistics. It is well known that some 20,000 North Korean refugees currently reside in South Korea. However, the magazine reports that an estimated 200 of them are not here any more. Surprisingly, they have moved back to the North.

  • a few dozen, perhaps, are North Korea spies who completed their missions and went back to Pyongyang to receive their medals and promotions.
  • those refugees who were disappointed with life in South Korea.
  • some refugees cannot stand the thought of the families they left behind. Many of them move back to reunite with their families.

The returnees are actually treated well in North Korea, used for propaganda purposes of course. But the most disturbing thing is that they and others who escape to other countries pretending to have just escaped the North as in this article:

Long Journey

_41644388_embassy_ap203x A 13-year-old girl gave her father`s letter to a guard in Hamgyeongbukdo at North Korea`s border with China. The guard, perhaps bribed by the girl`s father, told her to wait until nightfall. Several weeks earlier, Oh Hanna`s (not her real name) home was visited by security agents. "They found a bundle of Chinese money and cell phones after searching the house," Hanna recalls.

She remembers that her father, like many others in the town, was engaged in business with China. But possessing foreign currency and a cell phone is a serious crime in the North. The men took her father away for several days.
After her dad returned home safely, he feared for the safety of his family, and he told her: "If you stay here, our whole family will face imprisonment." He gave her a letter and told her to give it to the person in charge at the border near her hometown. That is her last
memory of her father.

When darkness covered the area, the guard pointed a dim flashlight toward the 13heff_184 other side of the river, in China, and let Hanna and her 10-year-old sister cross the Duman, which flows between North Korea and China. It was March, and it was still so cold that the river was frozen. Hanna held her sister`s hand tightly and they started running across the ice toward the lights on the opposite bank. This was the beginning of a long, hard journey.



However, after only a year in her dream country, she realized that it was a pipe dream. Eight months ago, the sisters fled to the UK, and they now live in Wales as refugees. Why did they risk their lives again to leave South Korea? This is not merely a human rights question. It involves several issues of social and cultural concern, as well as some obstacles to the reunification of the Koreas.

Some North Koreans, like Hanna, leave the South, the country they had fled to at the risk of their lives. The Daily NK, the Seoul based newspaper which specializes in news about North Korea, reported in December 2007 that the number of North Koreans leaving the South for the UK or other countries is increasing.

The Voice of America, the official external broadcasting service of the United States, reported that 245 North Koreans in South Korea moved to the UK between October and December in 2007, adding to a total of 415 North Korean asylum-seekers in the UK last year.

BBC on NK Refugees

North Korean Refugees in China

This Is Korea, TIK, This is why the KWB tells about these prevailing attitudes. For Korean Adoptees and all those involved in This Thing of Ours-Adoption to understand ALL the complex issues that must be sorted through to find balance and truth, even the Inconvenient Truths.

The Korean War Baby

October 2, 2010

Vietnam Adoption - Holt International Adoption Agency

In the complexity of This Thing of Ours-Adoption, the Korean War Baby points to this page from Holt Children’s Services International on the current, and past situations from Vietnam.
Vietnam Adoption - Holt International Adoption Agency

“Children in Vietnam need loving adoptive families”

Holt's Vietnam program is currently closed to new applications. There are no adoption applications being processed by Vietnam to the U.S at this time. The Vietnamese government is in the process of drafting a new adoption law. We will update our website as soon as information is available regarding adoptions reopening to the U.S.
Holt originally worked in Vietnam in the early 1970s with an extensive foster care program.  An important memory of that time was “Operation Babylift”, Other Links,   when almost 400 children were evacuated from Saigon for international adoption in the United States during the last few days of the war.
*From Holt International magazine, 50th Anniversary 2006:
image When Executive Director Jack Adams sent a Holt survey team to Vietnam in 1972, the situation for children there was similar
to those in Korea at the time of Harry Holt’s initial visit. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, which began in 1973,
left thousands of mixed race children—Amerasians or, as the Vietnamese called them, buidoi, the dust of life.

By June 1973, Holt had established a reception center in Saigon and set up an extensive foster home program so that children could have the individual attention of a family while Holt worked at finding homes for them. Holt set up two childcare centers in Saigon and one in DaNang. At that time, some authorities estimated that Vietnam had over 900,000 orphan children, 25,000 of whom lived in orphanages and were in desperate need of permanent homes.

In the final chaotic hours of the war, as it became apparent Saigon was about to fall to the North Vietnamese, Holt leadership chose to use its own chartered flight—a decision that kept Holt children from being among those who died in the crash of a U.S. government jet that was part of what became known as the “Baby Lift.”
Before mid-April, Holt transported nearly a thousand children from Vietnam to the  United States. Most traveled on a chartered PanAm jet with a volunteer crew—a jet for which Holt had to purchase special insurance for the one hour it would spend on the ground in a war zone.

Holt staff refused to take children from desperate parents. Only children who had been carefully screened and legally relinquished for adoption were sent to the United States. Holt’s bold decisions and steadfast commitment to ethical practice protected the lives of children and saved families from the anguish of correcting wrongs.

The fact is that the departure of these children from South Vietnam was the continuation of an intercountry adoption program that had been going on for some years. The movement of the children was accelerated due to the growing crisis in Vietnam. But, with negligible exceptions, the children met the criteria for intercountry adoption and virtually all of them were in some stage of processing when the decision was taken to speed up the movement.

Except for a minor role in uniting Amerasian children with birth parents in the United States, Holt was gone from Vietnam for the next 15 years. Holt returned to Vietnam in 1989 at the invitation of the government of Vietnam. Today, Holt’s efforts in Vietnam stretch from Binh Duong in the south all the way to Hanoi in the north. And like its earlier version, the new Holt-Vietnam program serves through a steadfast commitment to do whatever is best for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children.
(Back to Holt website article)
In 1989, at the invitation of the Vietnamese government, Holt returned to Vietnam to assist the government in the operation of orphanages and the provision of services to orphan children.
Today Holt Vietnam has developed a strong reputation within the child welfare community in Vietnam.  Holt continues to provide services to homeless children and at-risk families and maintains two offices in Vietnam - Hanoi in the north, and outside of Ho Chi Minh City in the southern province of Binh Duong.  Because of Holt’s long-term and broad range of programs in Vietnam, it enjoys a strong and long standing relationship with the government authorities responsible for inter-country adoption in Vietnam.

Holt’s staff in the U.S. and in Vietnam provide individual assistance to parents through every step of the international adoption process and support parents and children as they begin their lives together as a family.
The Korean War Baby 'pontificates' on these matters.

Russian AK-47
 The KWB served in the Vietnam war, with a US Marine Recon unit, only one of the elite units of our nation’s services. I was a young American who was of Mixed-blood and adopted in 1956 from South Korea just three years after the war ended, I volunteered to do what my own American Birth Father had done- go to a far off land and serve, to help them have freedom.

Lean and Mean, AhRuhRah
Unfortunately, my government in executing the Vietnam War, did not have the fortitude to fight the total way it should have been done. Just like Korea, the politicians ‘feared’ China and Russia getting more involved. MY GOD, these two countries openly both funneled war materials by Railroad and by sea into the Haiphong harbor because no sea blockade was put in place until Pres. Nixon blockaded and rained down B-52 arclights when the Communists failed to keep their end of the bargains. Now that is how wars should be fought, no holds barred, no quarter given until victory as in World War II. Oh, well, it was not to be.
 Instead our politicians sold us and our South Vietnamese allies out at the Paris Peace Talks, we pulled out and left them with no more support and pissed away the sacrifices of tens of thousands of American lives. We are about to do the same in Iraq and Afghanistan, with our present administration.

I would like to address the issue of “some” adoptees, especially  a few of the Vietnamese adoptees, again representing only a faction, who seem to blame their ‘sorry pitiful lives’ ONLY to the fact that they were adopted.

Steaming Pile of Bull Poop

OH, BooHoo! These folks whine about their “being stolen” from their culture? and having a hard life, because they have learned Socialist/Communist huge pile of bullshit, claiming that “the imperialistic Americans came and took them away”. READ what was happening in those days!

WELL, THAT IS WACKED!!! We KNEW that hundreds of thousands of children would suffer under the Communist rule that was coming. But I don’t wanna say that they were “lucky”…OH, NO, heaven forbid that I would say such a thing. Their idiot claims that all children were taken without proper documentation is certainly NOT TRUE when it comes to Holt. In fact the agencies had to refuse desperate parents that tried to give their children up SO THAT THEY WOULD HAVE A BETTER LIFE.

Were the parents horrible to do this? CONSIDER THIS, you who are so damn Ignorant of the history of your wonderful Communist Vietnam, which by the way is following the way of China and RUSHING towards Capitalism. Hmmm, what is happening might cause Uncle Ho Chi Minh to turn over in his grave!! My trip to Hanoi in 2006 was an eye opener for me, the absolute robbery of tourists just like some EU countries famous for pickpockets, flagrant ripping off unwary tourists. "One Dollar!" one hears, though you could buy 3 or 4 for the equivalent in Vietnamese dong.
515RRMA8ZQL__SL500_AA300_ According to the report of United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, 1/3 of boat people died at sea by killing, storms, illness,and food shortage. That is roughly  500,000 a mixture of ages-men, women, and children- are estimated to have died trying to find freedom.



“Currently, there are over 1.6 million boat people spread all across the world :  USA, Australia, Canada, France, England, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea,  Philippines.”
Have some folks forgotten the thousands, no 1.6 MILLIION Vietnamese (Not counting estimated 500,000 we DIED in the attempt), who fled the country after the FALL of SAIGON in April of 1975?
UH, Vietnamese BOAT PEOPLE they were called, and thousands of them were subjected to damn Pirates who boarded their leaking overcrowded vessels, raping women and children, stealing every valuable, leaving them with no food.  

In my interaction with Vietnamese people, especially during the filming of “Apocalypse Now” where several hundred Vietnamese extras were brought straight from the Refugee Center in Bataan province. This is how I spoke with countless people who I befriended and then they told me horror stories. Remember that anyone who was a Christian or had served in the armed forces or in the former government were persecuted, many were inprisoned in "re-education camps for several years". THEY LONGED FOR FREEDOM!!

"FREEDOM!!!" shouts William Wallace-BRAVEHEART

I can also guarantee you that Half-Blood children of the Foreign troops were DESPISED and HATED. About 20% of the Operation BabyLift children were Mixed-Blood. Others had fathers who had been killed during the war, their mothers DID INDEED give them up for a better life. Those who DID NOT get out had to live under Communism, spent their lives as third class NON-PERSONS. For just like South Korea, the Confucian social system looks upon children of such “foreign devils” as cursed. Even orphans are NOT looked upon favorably by Asian culture and social systems, certainly NOT Fricking Communism.

Life is really messed up, and Adoption is not the perfect nor best choice. Family Preservation IS best, but if that is NOT POSSIBLE then other options must be done. Multi-tiered solutions to the complexities of This Thing of Ours-Adoption. BUT PLEASE, stop this foolishness about WHINING about 'loss of culture and language' in such cases. HEY, go back to and volunteer in the present over crowded orphanages. It is good that the Vietnamese government stopped ICA until they studied how to do it better. Unfortunately thousands of children are left homeless because both mother and father have abandoned them. Sound familiar?

BUT to the Whiners and Moaners-Please spare us your pitiful cries, it falls on educated ears that know the facts of history. Even inconvenient truths far outweigh these cases of real abuse. Wish we could ask the first generation of Vietnamese refugees these questions, pretty certain the answers. For those who DO NOT remember living under communism though they can dream of their ignoramous dreamworld of socialism. HAH!

The Korean War Baby