[KS] US North Korea GI Defector

KimcheeGI kimcheegi at gmail.com
Mon Jul 19 02:10:22 EDT 2004

On Wed, 14 Jul 2004 03:35:18 +0000, Michael Breen
<mikebreen46 at hotmail.com> wrote:

> As far as I know, 5 GIs have gone North since the end of the Korean War. Four were in the early 60s, including Jenkins. Did you ever hear anything about the others? The last was a Private Joe White in 1982, I think. White reportedly drowned in a swimming accident and his belongings were sent to his parents in the US.
> Mike Breen


There's a site with the November 1982 Life Magazine Article covering
White's story at (begin quote)


November 1982
Reporting: David Friend

At first the puzzled U.S. Army simply called him AWOL. Facts were
scarce. Around two a.m., August 28, Pfc. Joseph White, 20, walked away
from Guard Post Oullette on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized
Zone, shot off the lock of a gate and disappeared into no-man's-land.
Within the day, North Korean broadcasts were exulting that an American
soldier had "requested political asylum." If true, it was the first
U.S. defection to North Korea in 17 years, the fifth since the DMZ was
established in 1953 dividing South Korea from the Communist North. The
previous GIs were used briefly for propaganda and were never heard
from again. Back in Joseph White's hometown of St. Louis, his father,
Norval, 52, a painter on a General Motors assembly line, insisted that
his son had been captured. His wife, Kathleen, said through her tears,
"It just doesn't make any sense. Why would Joey want to leave his ice
cream, his chocolate syrup, his money?" But by the end of the week, a
videotape of the young soldier shattered his family's hopes. Speaking
in the Pyongyang People's Cultural Palace, Pfc. White, still in
uniform, condemned U.S. militarism and then led a chant in homage to
North Korean dictator Kim Ilsung. Joe White was a strange defector to
Communism. He had been the arch-conservative in a family of
blue-collar Democrats, a cold warrior who, at 13, wrote to his senator
to warn of the Communist menace. Turned down by West Point, Joe
enrolled in Missouri's Kemper Military School and College, where he
was regarded as a loner. A fair student but a poor athlete, he dropped
out and enlisted in the Army after deciding Kemper was full of
"losers." In letters home from Korea, samples of which appear on the
following pages, White gave no hint that his political ideas were
shifting. If anything, he seemed only more fanatical. "It was drummed
into him," Norval White recalls, " Hey, buddy. When you cross that
line, you're gone forever." (end quote)


Apparently Mary Ellen Mark was the photographer for the story, and has
been kind enough to host both the photos and the story over at her

The KimcheeGI

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