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Pacific Stars and Stripes, Mar. 7, 1956

25 Korean Orphans Flying into Film 

By Paula Bernstein, S&S Staff Writer


Two-year-old Lee Soon-Ja didn't want to be a movie star - not Tuesday night.

She just wanted to go to sleep.  Besides, she was scared.

Soon-Ja stopped briefly at Tokyo International Airport Tuesday night with 24 other Korean war orphans en route to Hollywood for a movie about orphans.

She is the youngest of the 14 girls and 11 boys (ages 2 - 8) who scampered from a Northwest Orient plane.  They were docile, cheerful, bright eyed, quietly curious and waved like animated puppets for delighted photographers.  All except Soon-Ja.

She waved for nobody. In fact, she cried rather steadily throughout her hour's stay in Japan, or she stood impassively, sniffling at intervals.  Surrounding her, boys in black uniforms and girls in red coveralls sang a marching song and waved Korean flags.  Down each little girl's back, one black braid flapped excitedly. Not Soon-Ja's.

Korean residents of Tokyo met the orphans with candy, but fruit drops didn't seen to do much for Soon-Ja's spirits.  Even Mrs. Whang On-Soon, orphanage director, couldn't cheer Soon-Ja.  Although she tried - hard.

Mrs. Whang is one of five orphanage supervisors - four women and a male interpreter, Lee Dai-Won - accompanying the orphans to the U.S.  For in-flight meals before landing in Seattle Wednesday, Northwest Orient has provided special rice dishes, large quantities of milk, pineapple juice, fruits and cookies "but the children'll miss kim chi," Mrs. Whang admitted.



Thursday, the orphans will fly from Seattle to Hollywood to stay a month portraying themselves during filming of Universal-International's "Battle Hymn."  The movie is 1950.  Universal-International will house the orphans in a children's camp at Burbank, Cal., and had hired Korean cooks and teachers for them.

 Mrs. Whang hopes to bring back U.S. cartoon films for the rest of her 627 charges at the Cheju-Do Island Orphans Home of Korea.  One of the orphans, Lee Jai-Man, 8, said Tuesday night he'd heard "they have huge homes in America.  I want to see these huge homes."  Another boy anxiously mentioned cowboys. Soon-Ja, placid and unstaring, wouldn't say anything.

Obediently and kind of relieved, she trotted along to board the waiting plane to Seattle.  Like the rest of the orphans, she clutched a blue airline duffle bag - almost empty.





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