Thursday, April 26, 2012

The 'Taegukki'-like Hearsey brothers

Yesterday I posted briefly about Archibald Lloyd Hearsey, a Canadian Korean War veteran who asked to be buried in Korea with his brother, who was killed in battle here in 1951.

As it turns out, there's more to the story. I was talking to Canadian embassy staff last night who emphasized that this was the first time any foreign veteran of the Korean War had asked to be buried in Korea, and when the group of veterans and Hearsey's daughter and grandson arrived at Incheon Airport, an ROK honour guard was waiting.

I was told his family members come from northern Ontario, and had to fly to Thunder Bay, then Toronto, then Vancouver, and then Incheon, and that after that long trip, the reception, with 20-30 reporters present, was a bit overwhelming.

As the Korea Herald reported,
Archibald Hearsey’s ashes were brought to Korea as part of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs’ program providing Korean War veterans with a chance to revisit Korea. The program began in 1975 and 28,500 veterans have visited Korea since then. [...]

[Hearsey's] story was first conveyed to Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs by Canadian Senator Yonah Martin. The story fueled a fundraising campaign to enable Debbie Hearsey to make the trip to Korea.
As this article adds,
The visit was part of Korea Revisit Week, an annual event supported by the South Korean government. This year, a total of about 200 veterans from Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand spent five days in South Korea visiting historical sites.
This would be because on April 22, 1951, the Chinese spring offensive led to the battles of the Imjin River and Kapyong, with British troops playing a large role in the former (as depicted in Andrew Salmon's book To The Last Round) and Canadian, Australian and New Zealand troops playing large roles in the latter.

Archibald Hearsey's ashes were interred with his brother at the UN Cemetery in Busan yesterday.

The above image is from KBS's news report, which can be seen here. There have actually been quite a few Korean language news reports about this. This YTN report (with video as well) is titled "Older brother, because of me you entered the war, I want to be buried with you." What has captured the imagination has been the similarities of the Hearsey brothers' story - in which an older brother joins the military to fight in the Korean war to protect his younger brother, and who dies in the younger brother's arms - with the Korean film Taegukki: Brotherhood of War; hence the title of this Yonhap article, titled 'Canada "Taegukki"-like Hearsey brothers interred together.' This news report also begins with footage from the film, and riding the AREX home last night, I saw a headline flash on a screen showing YTN news which was similar to the title of the Yonhap article. At any rate, kudos to the classy way in which the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs handled this.

Oh, and unrelated (though this very disturbing article on the topic just came out), but it came up in conversation last night - I had no idea Tablo was a Canadian citizen.

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