Born: Seoul, South Korea

Yongsan Garrison US Army Insulation Base, Seoul, South Korea
Altus US Air Force Base - Altus, Oklahoma  USA
Edwards US Air Force Base - Mojave Desert, California  USA
Keesler US Air Force Base - Biloxi, Mississippi  USA 
Wright-Patterson US Air Force Base - Dayton, Ohio  USA
Lackland US Air Force Base - San Antonio, Texas  USA
The University of Texas - San Antonio - Fine Arts  USA
Academia de Arte Yepes: San Antonio/Los Angeles  USA


On September 15, 1950; the Supreme Commander Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Army; landed his Amphibious Invasion on the western port of Inchon, South Korea; re-captured Seoul (the Capital) from the Communists; and exploded the Korean War across the world. For three years, seven million military troops battled for control of Korea. The Chinese estimate that 5 million military and civilian deaths consecrated North and South Korean soil. In the end, Korea was left in rubble. Three decades later, orphaned babies still littered the streets and gutters -- bi-products of The Cold War. 

In Seoul, South Korea; -- Kang, Soohyun (Maria Jean Kane) was born on January 1st and then again on January 4th.

On January 1st, the night of her birth, the servants were ordered to burn Soohyun and her twin sister,  Moon-Su, before dumping them in the trash. Both babies were placed in a cloth sack and thrown into the fire. As the sack caught fire, Moon-Su rolled and pushed Soohyun out of the sack and onto the floor. One servant panicked under the weight of the omen and ran back into the house with the burning baby.

On the morning of January 4th, three Catholic Nuns from the Star of the Sea Orphanage in Seoul, were making their regular rounds searching for babies in the trash dumpsters of Tap Tong, a village just outside of Seoul; they found none that day. When they returned to the Star of the Sea, they found a Geisha with a basket at the front door of the church. Inside the basket, wrapped in a silk blanket, was a 'well fed', but badly burnt, baby girl. The baby was pronounced dead on arrival, but 'woke up' when Sister Bernadette picked her up.

Three months later, Kilcha Chang and her husband John A. Kane, walked into the Star of the Sea Orphanage. They were Soohyun's  soon-to-be adoptive parents. 

(Chang, Kilcha) was born in Inchon, South Korea. Her family had lost their wealth and land in Inchon to the Communists. Her mother died during the War. Her father and sister (Chang, Fosi Pun) had dis-owned her when she married John Kane.

John A. [Kane] was born in 1951 Detroit, Michigan; and placed in an orphanage. 
In 1953, a Detroit housewife--Irene M. Auberlin--had begun the World Medical Relief program to adopt babies from the Star of the Sea Korean War Orphanage. Adoption fever spread across Michigan. John's adoptive parents; Charles and Dorthey Kane lived in Detroit. They adopted John when he was eight.

Nine years later; in the wake of the Tet Offensive - the height of the Viet Nam War; John Kane, at the age of 17, enlisted into the United States Air Force; and became a Lifer. He did two tours in Viet Nam; then he was stationed at the Yongsan Garrison US Army Insulation Base Headquarters, Seoul, South Korea. In 1972, John and Kilcha were married in Seoul.   When the time came to start a family.  John wanted a son, but Kilcha  was unable to conceive.  At the Star of the Sea Orphanage, Sister Bernadette (French/Canadian) only spoke French and Korean. So Kilcha did the talking for the couple. John insisted on adopting a boy. Kilcha chose the burnt baby girl, Soohyun. John named her Maria.

All of Maria's burns still had not healed. At night John would smuggle Maria into the 12030 Evacuation M.A.S.H. Hospital at the Yongsan Army Insulation Base so the U.S. doctors could work on her burns.

At 6' 2" and 195 lbs, John earned 1st and 2nd degree black belts in Karate; Judo; and Tae Kwon Do. John would carry Maria in the palm of his hand when he would take the 4'10" Kilcha walking off base. The locals would throw rocks at them, and then run.

John was accepted into the Officer Training School at Altus Air Force Base - Altus, OKlahoma. He returned home to the U.S. with a Korean wife and an adopted Korean baby.

Disapproval of Kilcha and Maria came quickly from John's adoptive  parents--Charles and Dorthey Kane. Nonetheless, they bought Maria a present, the full collection--Time-Life Library of was to be Maria's Bible. 

John earned teaching degrees in Education & History; a Bachelors degree in Computer Science; and a Masters degree in Computer Science in Information Resource Management. 

Maria only spoke Korean, so Kilcha kept her out of school till Second Grade. Life was good and safe for them living on Air Force Bases across the United States: Altus Air Force Base - Oklahoma; Edwards Airforce Base - Mojave Desert, California; Keesler Air Force Base - Biloxi, Mississippi; Wright Patterson Air Force Base - Dayton, Ohio; and Lackland Air Force Base - San Antonio, Texas. Maria's first childhood memories are of her daily walks in the sun with Kilcha under the colonnades of palm trees at Edwards Air Force Base.

Kilcha raised Maria as a Korean girl; she taught her the art of Chinese calligraphy; how to  draw and paint; cooking and cleaning. All day they would cook Korean food (scallion pancakes, kim chee, pulgogi & chapchae...); Plant flowers and vegetables in the garden; clean the house; and draw in the kitchen. At night after dinner, Maria would rock on her Rocking-Horse until she fell asleep on it, then Kilcha would carry her to bed.

John raised Maria like a 'Air Force Brat'. John was vice president of Edwards Air Force Base Gun Club; so it was common to see a tiny Korean girl with a Coke and beef jerky sitting on top of the bar at the Gun Club with Top Guns; Test Pilots; Astronauts; The Right Stuff & company. It was also common to see that tiny Korean girl hanging on to John's belt loops as they rode around Base on his motorcycle.

As Maria grew up and the family traveled from Base to Base; her education spanned the limits of her imagination. In the Mojave Desert, California she learned how to steer an automobile (her feet couldn’t reach the pedals); also, camping; canning fruits and vegetables; making beef jerky; deer jerky; and cooking outdoors. In Dayton, Ohio she learned how to fire & clean guns and rifles; make bullets & shotgun shells; Ice Skating; karate; and lunchtime on Base she was first pick Quarterback tackle 5' tall, and in a skirt. In Biloxi, Mississippi she learned Trap Shooting; pier, surf, and sea fishing; how to navigate a power boat; and play the piano. In San Antonio, Texas, it was hunting; ROTC; motorcycles; 10k runs; she learned how to play the drums; guitar; and raised pet scorpions; rats; hamsters; snakes; cats; and dogs. 

There is an old Chinese proverb that states, "when the student is ready, the master appears". It was in San Antonio where Maria settled in and majored in Art, and found her best art teachers, Mr. Garcia & Mr. Garza.

Kilcha was Buddist, John was  Catholic. When Kilcha turned Born Again Christian, John and Kilcha gave Maria the choice in which religion she wanted to follow...she chose her Time-Life Library of Art as her Bible.

In San Antonio; at the age of 17, Maria came home from school and found Kilcha dead from a stroke. John was overseas. After the funeral, John resigned from the military and took up drinking to kill the pain. Maria ran away from home. 

John moved to the backwoods of Michigan. Maria stayed in San Antonio and won top high school 'Girl' artist of Texas. After graduation she worked two jobs including six years with the United Parcel Service; moved into the Blue Star Arts Complex in San Antonio's Art District;...and painted at night.

To keep her spirit alive, Maria has adopted Kilcha's name for when she signs her paintings.

John Kane is now teaching at Fort Knox Army Base in Kentucky.

Maria still has the burn marks on her legs and the silk blanket from the Star of the Sea Orphanage. It is unknown if Maria's twin sister, Moon-Su, survived the fire. But, if you find Moon-Su; let her know that her sister, Soohyun, is alive and well, and is a “Master Painter" at the Academia de Arte Yepes in Los Angeles, California USA.