London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

An adoptee returns to her home town

Bella Frey, who recently reviewed The Return – the closing film of LKFF 2018 – tells us about her own personal return earlier this year.

Bella Frey meets the lady who took her into her home 43 years ago

A tale of the unexpected…

My head is still swimming from my recent trip to Korea.

It was in part planned to be a personal pilgrimage to re-visit places from my adoption paperwork and to search for clues into my past identity so I just wanted to share this lovely unexpected meeting.

The rapid development of South Korea has changed the cities and landscapes dramatically so I was sure the address in Busan that I was reported to have been found at would no longer exist. ….


With the help of Han EJ Karmy and the amazing local Nampo-dong police, we not only found the address which miraculously still existed in the same form as it would have been in the 70’s, but with a sprinkling of magic I was unexpectedly reunited with the lady who took me in to her home and to safety.

Somebody pressed her doorbell at about 11.30pm on the November 17th 1975 and then left. She remembered bringing me in from the cold and holding me and said that she had wanted to keep me but personal circumstances prevented that.

I will never know what would have happened if she hadn’t answered the door. Who might have seen me? Who might have taken me? How long I could have survived outside on a cold night. My suspicion is that whoever left me would have waited and observed to confirm my safety. I hope they saw. I hope they were comforted to see me being taken indoors.

I was surprised, delighted and overwhelmed to be able to thank this gentle faced elderly lady. She thanked me for finding her. Our reunion made it onto the national TV news.

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