25 Korean 'actors,' Holt return to Far East
Stars and Stripes April 23, 1956
TOKYO — Korea's most famous orphans and America's most distinguished foster father flew into Tokyo international Airport on a Pan American Stratocruiser Monday.
Their joint passage was pure coincidence. The 25 wide-eyed orphans are returning from the bright lights and sound stages of Hollywood. The foster parent is Henry Holt, the Cresswell, Ore., farmer who has found homes in the U.S. for two dozen Korean waifs. He is en route to Seoul to find more homeless children.
For movie orphans, the U.S. was a gold-plated fairyland, hounded on one side by Disneyland and on the other by soda fountains.
They left their orphanage at Sheju-Do eight weeks ago for Hollywood to appear in the production of "Battle Hymn," a film about the children's airlift carried out in the early days of the Korean conflict.
At that time the kids were bewildered and a little frightened, and dressed in the common cloth clothes of the orphanage. This morning at 6:30 a.m., they bounded down the ramp of the airliner looking like your next door neighbor's kids.
"AMERICA WAS a strange land with strange people, yet they all loved our children," said Mrs. Whang On Soon, director of the orphanage. She accompanied the youngsters with three ladies from her staff.
The children went on location with the camera crews to Arizona and New Mexico as well as in Hollywood. They put in 36 days before the cameras.
For their role in the picture, the Universal-International Studios is donating $3,000 to the Korean orphanage. In addition, the kids appeared on stage of a Hollywood theater, where they performed some folk dances and songs, and pocketed $1,200 in cash for their home.
MANY OF THE 25 will ultimately return to the U.S. again, this time for good as the children of Californians who have already begun adoption proceedings.
One Korean doctor and his wife in Los Angeles had two of the youngsters live with him for five days. When the plane left for the Orient, the woman cried as if they were her own, Mrs. Whang said.
Holt is making his third trip to Korea, he said.
"We hope to begin moving a much larger number of orphans out now that the Department of State has modified its requirements."
HE TOLD STARS & STRIPES that he has two full-time and two part-time women working in an office made in his home just to process applications and correspondence.
"When this movie comes out, I'm sure we'll have even more requests for children," Holt said.