- ‘127 Hours’ author Aron Lee Ralston, who amputated arm in canyon, arrested in Denver
- Men posing as cops break into home of former deputy
- Berkshire County eschews greenback for own currency — BerkShares
- Hagel warns Pakistani leaders of U.S. aid losses over drone-strike protests
- Florida authorities ban autistic boy from owning therapeutic chickens
- Defendant in Lee Rigby machete murder trial: ‘I love al Qaeda’
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, ‘cherry-picked’ intelligence: report
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a ‘wealthy white men’ racist word
- Democrat thwarts Nevada activist’s try to name peak after Reagan
- Congress ready to extend ban on plastic firearms
U.S. ship in N. Korea symbolizes resistance
PYONGYANG, North Korea — In the center of the North Korean capital floats a commissioned vessel of the U.S. Navy.
The USS Pueblo, a spy ship captured by the North in 1968, is moored on a bank of the Daedong River. Despite quiet U.S. moves in recent years to secure its return, the vessel still functions as tourist attraction, trophy and symbol of anti-American struggle.
By no coincidence, the Pueblo is moored on the spot where the first Korean-American interaction took place. In 1866, an armed American steamer, the General Sherman, was destroyed on the Daedong with all hands aboard after it attempted to force trade with Korea. According to a modern tablet at the site, the man who led the attack was none other than the great-great-grandfather of the country’s late leader, Kim Il-sung.
Although the story of the General Sherman is near-forgotten history, the Pueblo incident is well documented.
Visitors are guided around by Ryu Ok-hui of Pyongyang’s Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. In the wardroom, a cliche-laden propaganda video tells the story of the unlucky vessel.
On Jan. 11, 1968, the 895-ton Pueblo cast off from Sasebo, Japan. Her 83-member crew was tasked with electronic intelligence gathering.
However, as her mission was considered low risk — the Pueblo would be operating in international waters — she was armed only with machine guns; her top speed was 12.7 knots. More critically, she was not provided with U.S. air and naval cover.
On Jan. 23, four North Korean torpedo boats and two submarine chasers approached the Pueblo. MiG fighters flew overhead. When North Korean sailors attempted to board, Cmdr. Lloyd Bucher took evasive action and radioed U.S. forces in Japan for assistance. None was forthcoming.
The North Koreans opened fire. The resultant damage, circled with red ink, is clearly visible.
Helpless, Cmdr. Bucher struck his flag. His crew made frantic efforts to destroy classified material, but all cipher machines were captured. One U.S. sailor, Duane Hodges, was killed and others were wounded.
The Pueblo was taken to the east coast port of Wonsan and her crew was marched into captivity. For 11 months, they suffered beatings and psychological torture.
The Lyndon B. Johnson administration, already bogged down in Vietnam, finally signed a humiliating agreement that admitted spying. The crew, but not the ship, was freed on Dec. 23. A copy of the agreement is framed on board.
The unlucky vessel’s story did not finish there. As no east-west waterway crosses the Korean Peninsula, analysts were astonished when, in 1999, the Pueblo appeared in Pyongyang.
North Korea had disguised the Pueblo and sailed her around the peninsula, under the noses of the U.S. and South Korean navies, into Pyongyang.
Cmdr. Bucher retired from the Navy in 1973, grew avocados and enjoyed some success as an artist specializing in watercolor landscapes before dying at a California nursing home in 2004 at age 76.
By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- Tech companies call for an end to NSA online snooping
- WOLF: The president's other Obamacare lies
- Satanists petition for statue at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Ever wondered why people have such trouble getting along?
A politically conservative and morally liberal Hebrew alpha male hunts left-wing viper
Taking a deeper look at the undeniable connection between mind and body from a writer and speaker on matters of health, and a practitioner of Christian Science.
An objective, analysis-based perspective of D.C. sports as seen through the eyes of lifelong D.C. sports enthusiast, John Heibel.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow