Documentary filming in Cleveland

DIARY: Passage to Pusan heroine Thelma Healy at home after returning from her life mission to visit South Korea in front of a picture of her lost soldier son Vincent and holding her travel diary which was basis for the book Passage to Pusan.

DIARY: Passage to Pusan heroine Thelma Healy at home after returning from her life mission to visit South Korea in front of a picture of her lost soldier son Vincent and holding her travel diary which was basis for the book Passage to Pusan.

A  film crew from the Korean Cultural Centre came to  Cleveland on February 18 to film a family reunion  held at the Red Room and attended by about 50 people.

At the reunion, the family sang the Healy family anthem, an old song titled Goodbye from the White Horse Inn. 

It was the song that Thelma's first born son Sergeant Vincent Healy, 3RAR, Support Company, MMG (medium machine gun) Platoon sang when left the family home in Brisbane and went to war.

The reunion, of the Healy family, will be incorporated into a documentary about pioneering Brisbane woman Thelma Healy.  Her story has been told by her grand daughter Louise Evans, of Sydney in her novel Passage to Pusan.

Another grand daughter is Janine Healy who lives at Wellington Point and whose son Tomas was a focus at the reunion held on the eve of his 15th birthday.

Thelma Healy’s story came to light when, in 1961, she became the first mother to visit the grave her of her soldier son Vince who died in the Korean war.

“Vince was her first born and the father the rest of the Healy kids never had. When Vince was suddenly killed, Thelma almost lost the will to live,” Ms Evans said.

Her solo journey took her 15,000km from her Brisbane home to war-torn South Korea and was two weeks in duration. Her travel diary, letters and  oral histories from her four surviving children and other family members form a truthful and accurate basis for the book.

“While there, she met Mrs Kim who recognised the grief of a mother and Mrs Kim took it upon herself to go every year to the grave and lay flowers,” Ms Evans said.

“The pair became pen pals and friends and now her grand daughter and myself are friends.  We met as a result of their friendship and compassion.”

“Fifty-five years later you can fly direct today from Brisbane to the South Korean capital of Seoul in 10 hours,” Ms Evans said.

Ms Evans said Thelma raised 10 children on her own and was the first woman to take her absent husband to court for maintenance of the children.

“In those days, this was considered airing your dirty laundry and was quite shameful.  But Thelma weathered that shame to ensure she had money to raise her children.  This was a woman who believed in women’s rights and stood up against domestic violence.  She was a woman ahead of her time.”

“There were many laughs and tears along the way as her family generously and faithfully recalled treasured tales about living in Sandgate and Brisbane and about their beloved Thellie,” Ms Evans said.

Filming for the documentary continues in Sydney, Canberra and South Korea over the coming months. The Passage to Pusan documentary will be screened as part of the annual Australian-Korean Film Festival in Brisbane and in all Australian capital cities in August-September.

Passage to Pusan is published by PB Publishing (RRP $A24.99),  www.passagetopusan.com

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