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.


KoreanWarBaby-My Story

The Korean War Baby
"My Story"

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 thought towards a Half-Breed like me. I learned what "Tuigi" meant, 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, though and I never 'wished to be White'. MY Identity was as an American, with mixed heritage. I did not know what "Korean" meant but often wondered who my birth father was, his ethnicity. Mexican, Native Americans, and Spanish people would tell me that I had their 'genes' for sure.
For ten years I lived in the Philippines, working on international and local films. I was excepted as a 'mestizo' and fit into the former Spanish colony. I was a B-movie Character Actor, enjoying a 'wild life' until 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.
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 did not know yet my birth father's ethnicity.

Then in 1994 I came back to Seoul, Korea, with my church Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and was invited to stay with a church 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.

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 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, 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.


At 59 I am still 'working thru' my Adoption Identity. Each of YOU need to 'work through' your own understanding and hopefully find forgiveness and healing. I hope that you will learn what IS happening NOW, in the land of your birth, the Rep. of Korea (South Korea).

Times have changed, the reasons for 'relinquishment for adoption' have shifted, but there continues to be a need for a multi-tiered 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, three are secretly adopted in-country.


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, 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.

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.
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Korean War- 1950-53

In March of 1956, Korea had been torn by civil war, with outside forces helping the communist North to invade the fledging democracy of the South. Almost three years before an Armistice was signed but not a peace treaty. Technically the North and South are still at war. The ‘Land of Morning Calm’ suffered three years of total war that ravaged the country and people, separating millions from each other, and left it still divided.



Korean civilians were caught in the middle and killed by both sides, victims of savage, total modern war. The entire country was shattered, all aspects of civilization crushed. In the ashes of flattened buildings, the capital of Seoul was filled with homeless and poor, struggling to live day by day. Terrible things happened daily, disease spread quickly, basic necessities of life were almost impossible to find.

A young mother arrived at the gate of the Reception Center of World Vision, in YongDongPo, on the southern bank of the Han River.She had been told, 'look for the flag of their father'. She had brought her four-year old son and one year old daughter to send them to the land of their father, for what she knew would be a far better life than here.

The young mother knew that her children’s father had been a ‘foreign devil’, and that they were cursed and rejected by her people. Korean people called them “TuiGi”-“dust of the street” or “child of the devil”.  Their faces looked so strange and noticeable, drawing stares, comments, and sometimes bad words spoken under the breath, "Aiigoo! YangKalBo, a foreigner's whore!"
Already thousands of mixed-blood children were scattered throughout Korea, near the U.N. bases, products of desperate Korean women living with foreign troops. Together with tens of thousands of full-blooded children who were separated, abandoned, single or double orphans an estimated 300,000 children were on their own. They were known as ‘War Babies’ to westerners, and the outcasts of Korean society.
  
 
Jun Yong Soo/전용수/ (Donald Gordon Bell)-"This is my Korean Passport photo with ‘shell-shocked’ expression. As a ‘half-breed’ I would never be acceptable to Korean society and the best thing for me was overseas adoption. Korean people almost always tell me “you don’t look Korean at all” when they view my pictures. I am SO glad when a few tell me "You look sorta Asian".



Don Gordon Bell was that boy and his sister was adopted into the same family. Through a simple error on documents, they grew up thinking that they had different mothers/fathers. Through a series of events they learned that their Korean mother had tried to keep them and finally in love, gave them up for adoption, to the land of their American father. Don was one of the Holt Adoption Agency’s first orphans to be processed and sent to America in  May, 1956 and his sister followed in December on the first Chartered flight of 76 war babies to meet their new families.

"I hate the term 'happy adoptee' because it divides us into US and THEM, but all adopted persons have to face challenges, and though the level is different for most they suffer from emotional wounds in their spirits and minds. Feeling of Loss and Abandonment MAY affect how one deals with life in general. There are extremes, like White and Black and a spectrum of shades of intensity of grey in between. Such a plethora of stories and yet we have a common bond, we are a community in what I call, This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

 Don returned in 1994-95 to Korea four times, with a Korean Pastor as a Worship team member of Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Anaheim, California. He and his American wife were invited to stay for one year with a church that helped him to discover his Korean heritage.

Living abroad and personal issues of infertility took it's toll though, leading to a divorce one year later. Don kept a computer and his harmonicas, let her have the cars, house, lock stock and barrel. He soon found to his dismay that the churches that had begged him before to speak at their churches, now asked him to stay away. "Oh...sure, since I AM a divorced man. Could I come and visit? Oh, maybe not a good idea...I understand."

It was to prepare him for the many times when students over the years, suddenly quit with no explanation given...that is just the Korean way. TIK-'This is Korea' and it must always be remembered that his mindset is Western and his outward appearance is well, multi-ethnic. "What exactly ARE you? Kinda Asian maybe?" Many years later he found out through modern genetic testing of DNA that he and his sister's birth father was himself a multi-ethnic person with Spanish/Mexican/Apache heritage. Many times in both of their lives people guessed that they had these traits in them.

Don is still living here14 years later, teaching English and actively helping other Korean Adoptees who are returning to discover their roots or search for their own birth parents...to discover their own Identity and come to terms with life. Don thinks that adoption identity is a life-long process that ebbs and flows with different levels of intensity.

Holt number A-20
When he first visited the Holt Memorial museum at Ilsan compound, he was shocked and awed to find a logbook with his photo listed as A-20. He was lucky to meet Grandma Holt in 1994, and again in 1995 when he made his third ministry trip with Pastor Min from Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Anaheim, Cal.


 
At first he had not really thought about pursuing a search for his Korean mother, thinking it was impossible. He did a couple of newspaper articles but with no results.

Then in 1997, another HonHyulAh, Korean-American Nolin Stratton introduced Don to Ami Nafzger who was putting together a group of Adoptees, some from Europe like Mihee and some from the States. The goal, pun intended, to help other adoptees get some help when they came back to Korea. Over a number of coffee shop meetings was born and then nurtured, the future Global Overseas Adoptee's Link.

In 1998 GOA'L was launched by founder Ami Nafzger with much help from the other dozen Founding Members.


  ************
 More to come...like him, a work in progress.





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From 1975 to 1985 I lived in the Philippines and had the chance to work in the Film Business. It was a wonderful adventure, with ups and downs, but I loved it. Recently I found that I was listed on "Google search" on the IMBb with my dubious film career.

Internet Movie DataBase
Don Gordon Bell
Seoul,, Korea (Republic of)
dgordonbell@gmail.com . koreanwarbaby.com/
SAG

Films:                                                         Task                                           Director/Production
Heart of Stone (1992)                           1st Assistant Director                      Prison Power Ministries
Manila Tattoo (1988)                             Fighter                                           Bobby Suarez Prod.
Silk (1986)                                            Fighter Haskel                                Cirio Santiago
Equalizer 2000 (1986)                           Gossage                                          Dir. Cirio Santiago
Warbus (1986)                                      Ronny Schzenphrenic Psycho         Regal Films/Fernando Baldi
American Commandos/Hitman (1985)   Tiger, Green Beret SOG                 Bobby Suarez Prod.
Naked Vengeance (1985)                     Arnie (Rapist 4)                              Cirio Santiago
The Devastator/King's Ransom (1985)   Deputy                                          Cirio Santiago
Wheels of Fire (1985)                            Robot                                            Cirio Santiago
Purple Hearts (1984)                             Casting Production Assistant           Sid Furie
Final Mission (1984)                              Deputy                                           Cirio Santiago
Bruce's Fists of Vengeance (1984)        Miguel's Henchman                         Unifilm International
Stryker (1983)                                     Henchman                                       Cirio Santiago
Blood Debts (1984)                             Gang member                                  Silver Star/Teddy Page
Hunter's Crossing (1983)                      Controvida                                      Silver Star Productions
White Slavery (1983)                           Customer Sarsi Emmanuelle             dir. Lino Brocka
Pleasure Island (1982)                          Saudi Arabian businessman
Crossbone Territory (1982)                  Pointman Green Berets                   Kinevesa International
Enter the Ninja (1981)                          Venerius' Goon                               Menahim Golan Dir.
Intrusion Cambodia (1981)                   Team Member SOG                       Jun Gallardo Dir.
Firecracker (1981)                              Martial arts fighter                            Cirio Santiago
Hantingan (1981)-                              Friend of Eddie Garcia                      Dir. Francis 'Jun' Posadas
Pabling (1981)                                   Maricel Soriano's American Friend     Dir. Ishmael Bernal
Wild Lips (1981)                               Friend of Cherie Gil boyfrien              Dir. Francis 'Jun' Posadas
Emma Henry 2 (1980)                      Goon                                                  Dir. Armando David
Temptation Island (1980)                  Ship's Crew member                          Regal Films/Joey Gosiengfiao
Wanted: Wives (1979)                     Lead role                                            Regal Films, Phil.
Apocalypse Now (1979)                  Radioman 'Dustoff' Ville 2                  Francis Coppola
They call him Bruce Lee (1979)         Lead Contravida                               Kinevesa Intl/dir. Jun Posadas
Dakpin Si Junior Bombay (1978)      Boyfriend of Ruby Anna
The Five-Style Fists (1978)               Eagle Claw Master                            Leonardo C. Pascual
Sinong Pipigil Sa Pagpatak                Customer of Pilar Pilapil
Ng Ulan? (1979)
They Call Her Cleopatra Wong (1978) Expat Bad guy                                Bobby A. Suarez                                                                                                                      director George Richardson 
Aguila (1978)                                   Husband of Elizabeth Oropesa
Sabotage 2 (1978)                           Mafia Goon fighting Tony Ferrer         Dir. Efren Pinon
The Boys in Company C(1978)       Asst. Drill Instuctor                             Golden Harvest/Sid Furie 
Burlesk Queen (1977)                                                                                Dir. Celso Ad Castillo
Kabaret (1977)                               Drunk customerCharito Solis
Batang City Jail (1977)                    Boyfriend of Vivian Velez
Huwag Hamakin Hostess                 Dance partner of Alma Morena
(1977)
Do They Not Cry in America(1977)  'Jarhead' Marine POW
Mga Tinik Ang Babae (1977)           Photographer
Hostage Hanapin Si Bautigas          Friend of Eddie Garcia 
(1977)
Boy Pano-(1980)                          American soldier Bembo Roco
Raw Force (1982) (aka                 Zombie of Mushashi Sword master      director Edward Murphy
Warrior's Island)

Television
Igo Shi Insang Ida/Successful
Lives
Various Guest Appearances SBS - Seoul Broadcasting Service, Korea
Pilot for "Savage in the Orient" (1983) Producers Assistant CBS pilot
Ang Makulay Na Daigdig Ni Nora (1977) American boyfried of Susan Valdez Channel 7
"Itong Ang Philippines" This is the Philippines (1977)  Private William Grayson/  San Juan Bridge sequence
Directors Jose Mare Avellana/ Cirio Santiago

Loretta Young Show                Appeared in 1958 series as MYSELF a Korean Orphan
"Seed from the East"                 Documentary of Holt Children's Services-The first flight of 12.




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“Bamboo Gods and Bionic Boys”
An evolving history of genre filmmaking in the Philippines
Interview
“Who is Don Gordon Bell?”

by Andrew Leavold

Who is Don Gordon Bell? Don was one of the Americans who lived in the Philippines from 1975 – 1985, working on the Vietnam War movie classic, “Apocalypse Now”.  Don had served with an elite unit of the US Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. His Marine experience earned him a job as the Set Production Assistant, Casting department, training and placing all the extras on set. He worked on 35 international films and about 50 Local Filipino films over a ten year period. Don performed a variety of Production staff jobs, Casting, writing scripts; he started as “just an extra”, then worked as a stuntman, bit player, character actor, and major supporting cast roles, even some lead roles.  



“Korean War Baby”

I was named JUN Yong Soo, born during the Korean War, sort of a ‘war child’. I use the term a ‘Korean War Baby’. My birth father, a U.S. soldier, probably had come to Korea not really knowing why America was helping the Korean people. He may have been a high ranking NCO or Top Sargeant. I know that he served about four years, fathered two children, first me then my younger sister with our Korean mother. He had to go back to the USA so my Korean mother was left with two mixed-race children. We were called “TuiGi/튀기” a pure Korean word that means “Child of the Dust or Nothingness”, a derogatory slang word, used for Black/Korean ‘mixed-blood’ children, but also for all ‘mixed-blood’ children. It had another meaning, a “child of a devil”. A nicer term is  Hon Hyol Ah (혼혈아) from the Chinese and Korean words that still have racist connotations like  ‘Breed’, ’half-breed’ or ‘mixed-blood’.

 I was born in the middle of the war, on January 25, 1952, and a Korean woman with two mixed-race children would have had an almost impossible task to take care of us because of the dislike even hatred for our kind. Some countries, such as the Spanish colonies like the Philippines, being a mestizo was a good thing. I never felt prejudice in all the years that I worked in the Filipino film industry. In fact some of my best friends in the business were half-Filipino, James Gaines and Henry Strzalkowski.

I do not know or remember my father, and can only guess based on historical facts. I never felt angry towards my birth mother because my adoptive parents, both Christian, raised us to understand my birth mother’s predicament. I was told that we are adopted into God’s family. Only in my mid 30’s did I begin to comprehend these Christian teachings personally. You will have to read my book when I publish in a couple of years.
By High School I was ready for some action, I was very conservative politically and felt that Vietnamese people were so similar to my birthmother’s people in Korea. They needed a chance to be free of Communism, so I knew why we had gone to Vietnam, or so I thought.

Off to War- Like Father, like Son
            Like my father before me I joined up to serve. I chose the Marines because I was impressed with the ‘Esprit de Corps’. I was in the best unit because I did not want to be in a war zone with draftees. Uncles and Cousins had served with the Marines so it was a natural choice. I was off to the war, ready and willing to kill for God, Country, and Rock ‘n Roll. I was assigned with an elite Reconnaissance unit of the US Marine Corps in Vietnam.
1st Recon Battalion was the ‘elite of the elite’, the Marine Recon, my unit had one of the highest Kill Ratios (Few of us, many of them). I experienced some of the horrors of war, fought, and killed for a good cause…my fellow Recon Marines.I tried being extra careful not to ‘father a bastard’, but still took part in ‘indulging in exotic women’. I took three trips to Thailand where I am ashamed NOW to say, we 'bought' the services of prostitutes. I justified my actions as 'everyone was doing it' and gave extra tips to assage my guilty conscience. It was a 'rite of passage' for many young men, away from home tasting forbidden fruit.
After getting out of the Marines, I went to college without direction or purpose. Then by fate I took a trip to the Philippines with my college roommate John Silao, a Filipino who emmigrated to America at 12 years old. It was late 1975, the Vietnam War movie “Apocalypse Now”, starring Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen, was in pre-production and casting extras to appear as US troops. John’s cousin worked in Filipino film business and told me about the casting call for foreign extras. The Local Casting Director, Ken Metcalfe, noticed my USMC tattoo on my right forearm, found out that I had served in-country with the US Marines. Ten minutes later, Ken took me to met Director Francis Coppola.

When Francis heard I had been with Marine Recon, I was hired immediately as a Military Advisor. An extra got $25, but I was to be paid a hundred dollars a day! My title was Production Assistant, Local Casting Dept. First job I did was to organize the unruly mob outside. I tried using a loud hailer but it had too much distortion, so using my strong voice, and speaking like a Drill Instructor I called for everyone’s attention. Some called out “Who the fuck are you?”, so I told them I was the ‘prophet’ who give them the official WORD from the production. "The Word" right now was to get some forms filled out, I.D. photos taken, contact numbers, if they wanted to make some money they should listen and follow instructions. I had the power.

I then asked for anyone who had served in the Military to step forward, told the ten who did, they were now my assistants, at double pay $50 dollars a day. Everything went smoothly and Ken Metcalfe was happy to have me on board. We had the rabble sorted out and finished in three hours. My first day on the job had gone well.
 
I helped train all the extras on weapons, safety, infantry tactics, how to exit helicopters carefully but quickly, made sure they wore their uniforms and equipment correctly, helping them to look and act like real troops at war. (I have a letter from 2nd AD Larry Franco attesting to my promotion later to Set Production Assistant in charge of all extras- Ifugao, Filipino, Foreign, Vietnamese extras ON the Set.) I had gone to the Philippines for a 3 month visit that turned into almost ten years of working in the Filipino local and international productions. It was the greatest years of my life.
Who is the “REAL DON GORDON”

My complete name when I was adopted was Donald Gordon Bell. When I first worked in films I just used Don Bell on “Apocalypse Now”, “Boys of Company C”, and as an extra in local Filipino films, documentaries, television. Those of us that worked on both war movies now scrambled to find work on other films. I found that contacts with Filipino crew members remembered that I had worked with both films in the casting department under Ken Metcalfe. Ken also introduced me to Bobby Suarez where some of us got regular parts as “minor goons/bad guys”. Bobby’s film with Marrie Lee of Singapore, “Cleopatra Wong” was one of my first “international films”. At this time after a couple of years I began to use Don Gordon (using my middle name) as my ‘screen name’. I began telling everyone on sets that I was using this name, this was about 1978 when I “became” Don Gordon.
During the filming of “Apocalypse Now” Ken Metcalfe introduced me to Director Sid Furie, of “Lady Sings the Blues. He first met me on the set of Apocalypse Now after Ken introduced me to him as his main assistant. Both of us were hired to prepare for Sid’s production, “Boys of Company C”.  Shooting was due to start in the summer of 1977. Sid also met Director Francis Coppola, telling Francis, Hello, I am also making a Vietnam War movie”. Francis glanced around gesturing with his hands, with literally 2,000 extras, cast, and crew, preparing for the Hao Phat USO Show sequence.
Francis loudly exclaimed, “I AM making THE Vietnam War movie!!!” Francis stalked off with his entourage of staff. Director Sid turned to Ken and I, with a knowing smile, “Well, I’m going to get mine in theaters before he does…” Indeed,Boys of Company C” did come out first in theaters in the USA, summer of 1978, beating Apocalypse Now by a year.

"You Ain't the Real Don Gordon!!"

In 1980 or 81, I was working on "American Commandos" (released on DVD 1985-also called “Hit Man”) with Christopher Mitchum and John Philip Law. When I met John Philip and Christopher both of them were expectantly looking forward to meeting "the real Don Gordon" of “Papillion” and “Bullet” fame! John Philip Law said, "you ain't Don Gordon!" I replied, "Well, I am really Donald Gordon Bell, I used Don Gordon for a screen name the last five years. There is a REAL Don Gordon? I didnt know about him!"
      Google search ‘Don Gordon’, you will get the REAL DON GORDON, he was born in 1926, has a long, long film and TV career with over a hundred plus credits. I had not known of this famous supporting actor, who was a close personal friend of legendary actor Steve McQueen. He appeared with him in “Bullet” and “Papillion” in a supporting role. They told me about the "REAL Don Gordon" and I was like "Well, damn, now what do I do?" Christopher Mitchum suggested that I use Don Gordon Bell, sort of like John Philip Law. We all thought that had a good ring to it. Thus I changed my “screen name” for the third time. Don Bell to Don Gordon to Don Gordon Bell.
     
Then in sometime late 1981, the ‘Real Don Gordon’ played the elderly advisor of the Anti-Christ played by character ‘Damien Thorn’ in "Omen III: The Final Conflict". Hell, he had second billing, above the Title credits, and all over Manila were Bill Boards/flyers/advertising “Starring Don Gordon”. Writers that I actually paid monthly put out that it was ME. I tried without success to deny and even had some articles written. But everyone said, "we saw you, with a beard, congratulations...When did you do the filming?” I could not convince anyone that it was not me! I finally just agreed with folks, yeah, that was me.
   
Hey have you noticed, several of my films were accredited to the REAL DON GORDON. I did those films, methe imposter Don Bell/Don Gordon/Don Gordon Bell! Fair is fair I guess. I wish the Real Don Gordon could hear how he has credits for films he DID NOT shoot in the Philippines! UPDATE: Reached his agent and sorted things out. Real Don Gordon thought it was funny.

Soon after in 1982, Director Sid Furie came back to the Philippines to do, "Purple Hearts" (Filming in late 1982) and HE knew me in "Boys of Co. C" as DON BELL (1977 filming). So there was all sort of confusion on the Filipino film crew and staff, who all knew me as Don Bell/Don Gordon/Don Gordon Bell!! But Sid knew me as Don Bell. I had to make an announcement to one and all on the set that I was to be known henceforth, as DON GORDON BELL. I still use this name as a professor of the English language, teaching at a leading University, and private tutoring of Korean students in the homeland of my birth mother, Republic of Korea. I never knew how much trouble all my ‘name changing’ would cause when films went to DVD’s. I did not think it would matter outside of the Philippines. This hopefully will be the first time to clear up this mystery.




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“In 1990 I had lived in California for five years, after returning from the Philippines, walking away from the thing I loved so much, the Movie business. I knew that at that point in my life I had to get out. (more on the reasons later). I found a wonderful church the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Anaheim. I threw all my time, energy, money, all my being into learning, joined counseling teams, took every ministry team classes. I was at church 8 days a week and saw incredible wonderful things happen on Ministry trips to England, Germany, South Africa. Sorry, more on that later, but by 1990 I was intrigued (by the way, don’t you love Spell Checker) by the new church pastored by Mike Bickle, from Kansas City, Missouri. After two visits I felt led to move there and join their Ministry school.
 Oregon Holt Heritage Camp Counselor-I am center top row.
After deciding to move to Missouri, I was driving home after work when I noticed a large group of different ethnicities under a banner “Holt Families Picnic”. I immediately stopped and then recognized Bertha Holt, surrounded by adoptees from many countries with their adoptive families. I introduced myself to Grandma Holt as everyone called her and she invited me to be part of a Holt Heritage Camp as a counselor in Eugene, Oregon or New Jersey. I said sure after checking the dates I figured that I could work on both camps that year.

New Jersey Holt Heritage Camp Counselor-3rd row, 4th from left.


I drove up in my truck to Eugene, then back to L.A. picked up all my personal boxes and power tools for construction work. Drove to Kansas City in under three days, stopping to unload my gear with a family I would stay with from the church. Rested overnight, then I took off for the New Jersey camp, arriving midmorning of the check-in day. It was the first time I had seen so many Korean adoptees all together. A few of the ‘little darlings’ looked at my ‘mixed race’ face and asked, “What are you doing here?” “Why are YOU here? You don’t look Korean!” (Oh, dear Lord, even here I am getting the questions? Yes, and for 14 years in Korea. “You don’t look Korean at all!! Ha ha ha. I just want to KILL sometimes! Oh, I am just kidding...) 

I smiled and patiently told the little one, ‘My Story’. Not fully Asian, just kinda looked, sorta asian. Half-Korean and half-something, I had always felt divided, a split-personality, an angry psycho who instantly exploded in rage if I felt insulted or laughed at. My mind drifted backward to early school years, back to elementary grades…



‘Rock in a Sock’
In elementary school about the fourth grade I put a ‘rock in a sock’ and tied a knot in it as a weapon, kept it in my pocket. One punk who always gave me grief, snatched my glasses off my face so I hit him with my ‘rock in a sock’, striking his shoulder and back. He went down whimpering like a baby! I jumped on him and finished with a flurry of wild punches before my favorite teacher Miss Glitz pulled me off. One of my classmates, a girl who had been teased by the same punk, had quickly grabbed my weapon and hidden it. But many had seen my rage and from then on NO ONE wanted to mess with ‘that crazy Oriental kid’ and left me alone. ('Oriental' that was the PC term in those days, you know 1960’s).


Angry Adoptee? Who Me?

When I had Hypnotherapy this year (2009) many memories started to come back memories of the streets in Korea; like carrying rocks to throw, or a club, a sharpened stick. In middle school I took a 'church key' beer can opener, pounding it flat then sharpened it with my father’s files and grinder. Made a cardboard sheath and rammed a wooden handle on it. Voila, a ‘jailhouse shiv’ and I carried it to school in my back pocket. Only pulled it out once on a Mexican kid, Mike, who had flipped open a ‘switchblade’ and demanded some money from a group of us. He actually paused, surprised and curious, eased the blade back and slid it into his pocket. He asked to look at my ‘knife’ and seemed impressed.

Mike later gave me my first knife, a lovely traditional automatic push button style Switchblade, just like this one pictured. Notice the small sliding ‘safety’ behind the release button. One must remember to keep 'safety on' when knife is in FRONT pocket or you might have a sudden surprise opening, ouch! Also one does not want to ‘forget to unlock the safety’ and be pressing the release, oops. Mike was of Mexican/Italian heritage and welcomed me into his small 'gang'. He came up with a great idea, probably from his Italian roots, of providing ‘protection’ from other kids for a small weekly sum. 


During my Junior High years I began to study TaeKwondo, the Korean martial art, an attempt to learn more about my Koreanness. I met through my American instructor the famous Jhoon Rhee, the father of international TaeKwonDo. Throughout my teens I studied everything I could on the fighting arts, seeking to identify with my Oriental/Asian side of me. Martial Arts training

What are You? Trans-racial adoptees
In all Trans-racial adoptions, the common question asked by curious well meaning but rather dull folks- may be one of many variations like these:
What country are you from?
What are you, exactly?
Where do you COME from?
Are you a JAP or (Fill in the Asian country)?
Oh, you're Oriental, aren’t you?
Hey, you $*^#**!!! Go back to _______!
What ARE you? 

We Korean Adoptees and 'people of color' had to just deal with it, most were raised in small or medium size towns and cities throughout USA, but others were sent to European countries. Everyone has their stories and developed ways to answer. I dealt with it by getting tough and fighting back.
Watch for "The Korean War Baby" in book form, also available as an E-Book.
 




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