Who Will Answer
As I spend time with people in the adoption world, I get to meet some incredible people. One of those is Dr. David Hyungbok Kim. David, working alongside Harry Holt, was part of the beginning of a large-scale international adoption movement begun in Korea after the war.
David’s own personal history and story, are absolutely fascinating. After experiencing what he called an idyllic childhood, his family of missionaries was first brutalized by the Japanese invasion of their home in Manchuria, and then as they return to North Korea, David and his father were seized by Communist soldiers and thrown into prison.
David’s family was scattered across Korea, and he escaped to South Korea, where he learned English and went to work on an American army base. He never lost his desire to be a well-educated person, and he went back to school for his degree. Later he would earn a PhD, and become a very accomplished social worker and humanitarian.
These are David’s memories of South Korea after the war.
The country was in dire need of healing from the wounds and destruction wrought by the brutal conflict between North and South. The devastating effect of the Korean War, left many indelible scars. The Korean people suffered terrible casualties, with 2 million lives lost or wounded and over 10 million refugees and displaced families.
Among the many victims, thousands of poor orphans roam the streets seeking food, shelter, trying to survive. Among those orphans were mixed-race children born between mothers and UN soldiers, often called “G.I. babies.” These mixed-race children, a tragic consequence of the war, were the most vulnerable and had quickly become social outcasts severely ostracized by the people.
David had the opportunity to meet and then work with Harry Holt, the founder of Holt Children Services. Harry and Bertha Holt, not only adopted a children from Korea, they begin the process of creating the first international adoption laws. At the point that David and Harry first began working, there were 80,000 orphaned and abandoned children in orphanages in Korea. At the beginning, many of the children were malnourished and in great need of medical care. Kim Brown, one of the magazine contributors, was one of those children, and he shared his story in his post, Bringing Reality into Focus.
David has worked over 45 years helping children around the world. When I met him in Eugene, despite the fact that he’s well into his 80s, he was headed off to yet another orphanage, to continue his work.
David’s life and work, can best be summed up by an old Korean saying. There is always a way out, even if the sky is falling on you. You will enjoy this incredible tale of two wars, and a man determined to make the world a better place for children everywhere.
Who Will Answer is available at Amazon here.