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North Korean hero
16 September 2005 David Astley

North Korean hero

Pyongyang, North Korea

Kim Jung Rok is a North Korean hero. As a young sailor, in 1968, he led the boarding party that captured the USS Pueblo off the east coast of North Korea. Today he is a much decorated Senior Colonel and in charge of the USS Pueblo – even though it remains a commissioned ship in the US Navy.

As the only US ship to be captured since 1941, the USS Pueblo is a much prized ‘trophy’ of North Korea, and many foreign visitors are taken to meet Colonel Kim so that he can recount his story of how the USS Pueblo was captured. The US maintains that the ship was in international waters, but the North Koreans say it had entered North Korean waters on a spy mission. Colonel Kim told me how the ship had been challenged, and after it had tried to “run away” how they had fired 55mm cannons at it to make it stop (he showed me the holes made by the shells in the ship’s superstructure). He said that after a second attempt to avoid capture, machine guns were fired into the hull, which killed one of the American sailors on board. The ship then surrendered and he showed me where he had boarded the ship and how he found the captain trying to hide against the bulkhead of the bridge. Colonel Kim said that when they boarded the ship the sailors were trying to burn all the documents and destroy the cipher machines, but most of them were saved and the North Koreans passed much of the information onto the Soviets who were able to use it to break the codes being used by the US Navy at the time.

North Korea demanded an official apology from the US stating that otherwise the 82 captured sailors would be tried for espionage, which carried the death penalty in North Korea. Initially the US denied that the ship was on a spy mission, but after 11 months of threats and counter-threats, President Lyndon Johnson admitted it had been spying and the US issued a formal written apology. After the sailors were released, the US retracted its apology, but the written apology is still kept today in a glass case on the USS Pueblo for visitors to see.

In 1999, the North Koreans moved the USS Pueblo to the west coast of North Korea by sailing it through international waters between Korea and Japan, “right under the noses of the American imperialists” Colonel Kim gleefully told me. North Korea has offered to return the USS Pueblo to the US on several occasions in return for the lifting of some economic sanctions, but no agreement has been reached to date.

When I finished my tour of the USS Pueblo, I was asked to sign the visitors’ book. The last entry was from about a month before and was written by CNN’s senior Asia correspondent, Mike Chinoy (an American), who had diplomatically described his visit as “interesting”,

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Guest 01-Oct-2009 10:54
kotta kaminaaaaaaaaaa
guest 27-May-2009 00:36
Netstar is showing his ignorance. The world is much bigger than the USA. It is not right to hate a group of people who share different views than your own, but rather look for the good in others and hope to arive at a common ground.
netstar04-Apr-2009 23:55
Oh by the way this pic of this sailor in front of the boat makes him look like he has got to hit the toilet so bad that the sandpaper he uses to clean up with afterwards would probably make sparks for being so ass tight with hate towards america.
netstar04-Apr-2009 23:53
North Korea is a sorry place to be, the people are brainwashed to full extent that the USA wants to wipe the country off the face of the earth . It's not true we feel sorry for the people that put up with a dictator that swills american whiskey , listens to IPODS with american music, eats steak while the country eats grass in the hills, they should be smoking grass just to get by. Little Kim Jung Ill eats high off the hog while the country just stands around hating everyone and does not understand that there is more to life than bowing down to a short creepy man who scares people with communism and propaganda. Oh by the way we do have a choice to watch what we want, eat what we want, and go where we want. and believe in anything we want . I wonder if they believe in J.R. Bob Dobbs ? Look that one up. Oh by the way Karl Marxx suffered from horrendous boils underneath his arm pits , no wonder he was cranky.Maybe if the North Koreans where able to be let out of there cages and see the world maybe they wouldn't have this little creepy guy roaming around in Hello Kitty underwear .
Guest 25-Jun-2008 08:19
They didn't seem as brainwashed as you claim when I was there. Also, it has been argued that every nation brainwashes its citizens to an extent, and America is no exception (just look at all the posters telling you to buy, buy, buy). We have to wait until college before we can actually listen to scholars and get away from the government mandated books that are easily shreaded against college level books. I'm in no way saying that they aren't manipulated, but after visiting the nation, you begin to see it differently in a more realistic and balanced light. It is far more complicated than you make it out to be, and there is some dispute as to whether or not Kim Jong Il is truly in charge. The society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is far more complicated than people realize once you examine all the power struggles that occur there. I personally loved Pyongyang, but I am well aware of what goes on up north.

Also, the DPRK is not communist. If they were, there would probably be a better distribution of the wealth. Also, true communism requires democracy, and not the fake form of democracy that republics claim to possess, but a real form where no decision is made unless the entire population votes on it. The problem is that the process of achieving communism has fallen short at Juche socialism. This matter is also very complicated, but it is very interesting. It goes back to the issue of whether or not we use the definition to define a communist state, or whether or not we go by whatever they claim to be. It is an interesting question indeed.
nigam 10-Feb-2008 11:45
hi
ByebyeKorea! 05-Sep-2007 04:38
The people in North Korea are extremely brainwashed. Everywhere you go they will not give you direct answers for questions asked. They will say things like "Praise Kim Jong-Il our great leader" when you ask them about politics and their leader. North Korea has been cut off from media and the world and they (North Koreans) only know what their leaders have told them! As far as they know they are the most modern rich country in the world (another one of Kim Jong-il's lies). They are told that they are the most powerful and rich nation on earth and they do believe it with all of their heart. It's very sad that they don't know any better.

Brainwashed people can never make peace or have any normal life withing our world so they must die and a new generation of NON-BRAINWASHED ones must take their place in order to make peace and get NK on track! Even if North Korea starts to comply and follow the worlds rules the problem of their people being BRAINWASHED IDIOTS will still remain! It is arguably the only nation to have people who are so perfectly brainwashed and suckered into thinking what they are told. Their history books tell the exact opposite of ours and the rest of the worlds. They probably teach their people the USS PUEBLO is the biggest ship we had and that we are poorer than North Korea. It's complete stupidity!

These people must die because they cannot be saved. If we really wanted to get rid of North Korea we could do it easily. So I don't know why they act like we are evil. If we were truly bad we would just drop 10 Nuclear warheads on Pyongyong and it would be uninhabitable for 100's of years (assuming they were unclean dirty bombs, not clean nukes which radiation goes away in days)

I don't understand why they don't look at how well South Korea is doing. Kim Jong-Il does NOT care about his people. If he cared about his people he would get rid of communism and try something else because it doesn't work obviously! How much longer do they have to stay poor and keep getting poorer before they will learn they are not doing it right! South Korea is one of the richest countries in the world and Asia. They should cooperate with Europe and America and Canada and Australia etc and all of the NON-EVIL countries.

It's time for N. Korea to stop dealing with evil China and Russia and all of their other evil empire buddies! Be friends with the modern rich world and you will eventually become rich and modern like Korea and Japan!

Japan made friends with the U.S and Europe and what happened? Japan became rich and free and a great place to be. Same with Korea! So now North Korea and China should do the same and become modern and give up the communist dream! They should be capitalist/socialists. Like Canada or Spain. Screw full communism!

When WILL YOU LEARN?
Guest 16-May-2007 00:29
If the United States wanted to obliterate North Korea then indeed it would be no more. I feel for the people there being oppressed while its "ridiculous" leader drinks tons of liquors and watches his own 20,000 movie collection while his people suffer from famine,basic rights of freedom and the brainwashing that these people go through from birth. You have to feel for them.Let em keep the ship, we have a lot more. LOL
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