Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

40 years later, seized USS Pueblo is tourist draw in North Korea
McClatchy Newspapers ^ | Sep. 07, 2007 | Tim Johnson

Posted on 09/07/2007 7:41:24 PM PDT by Dubya

PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea’s greatest propaganda trophy, a captured U.S. Navy spy ship, floats along the banks of the Taedong River, beckoning visitors aboard to see how this country once humiliated the United States. It's the USS Pueblo, whose captain surrendered without firing a shot to North Korea in 1968.

Now a major tourist attraction, the vessel has become a floating symbol of anti-Americanism and the Cold War era. It draws some 1,000 people a day in organized tours designed to drum up patriotism.

“It was a great victory for the Korean people to capture this ship,” said Li Gyong-il, a tour guide dressed in a crisp taupe military uniform.

Even as tourists clamber aboard, inspecting bullet and shrapnel holes circled in bright red paint, poking into the captain’s quarters and taking the wheel on the bridge, the fate of the Pueblo is again in play. Several U.S. legislators have demanded its return, and North Korea hinted as recently as April of such a possibility as part of six-nation talks to dismantle the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

If the 177-foot vessel generates intense pride in North Korea, feelings also run strong in the United States, especially among survivors of the 82 crew members who were captured 39 years ago. During 11 months in captivity, they endured beatings and deprivation before a deal was struck to let them cross to freedom in South Korea.

“There’s just a tremendous amount of bitterness on the part of the crew,” said Stu Russell, a former reservist aboard the vessel who now lives in Eureka, Calif. “We’ve had a couple of suicides and a higher-than-normal divorce rate. We go through it every night. It doesn’t go away.”

Another former Pueblo crewmember said he longs for the ship’s return.

“I would love to see that ship sail into San Diego harbor. I’d just salute it,” said Ralph McClintock, one of several dozen communications specialists posted aboard the spy ship when it was captured.

Temperatures were frigid on the Sea of Japan on Jan. 23, 1968, when three North Korean torpedo boats and a sub chaser circled the USS Pueblo at gunpoint and ordered its surrender. The United States later claimed that the ship, disguised as a marine research vessel, was outside North Korean territorial waters, a claim Pyongyang contested.

When the Pueblo crew started evasive maneuvers, the North Koreans fired machine guns, killing one U.S. seaman. Fearing a massacre aboard the lightly armed vessel, Cmdr. Lloyd “Pete” Bucher ordered it into port at Wonsan as crewmembers tried — with little success — to destroy the abundant intelligence material aboard.

“We were told we’d be executed. We were bound up, blindfolded and beaten,” recalled McClintock, 63, who's now a television producer in Jericho, Vermont.

The beatings grew worse months later after the North Koreans discovered that the crewmen had staged a ruse. While assembled for propaganda photos, many of the crew offered middle-finger salutes to the camera.

“We had a cover story,” Russell said. “We said it was the Hawaiian good-luck sign. They bought off on it.”

The photo was published in a U.S. newsmagazine with an explanation of the real meaning of the gesture, enraging the North Koreans.

Tourists boarding the Pueblo today enter the galley to watch an 18-minute video, narrated in strident tones with rousing martial music in the background, that recounts how the ship was seized — by dealing “severe punishment to U.S. imperialist aggressors.”

By the end of the ordeal, when the captives were allowed to leave North Korea just before Christmas 1968, “the enemy knelt down before the Korean people” and the outcome sent a signal to the world, the video says.

“The aggressors who lorded it over everywhere in the world were driven out by our country. They returned without even turning their faces, without any dignity of the United States,” it says.

Li, the tour guide, ushers visitors past lockers pocked with bullet holes and into interior electronic monitoring and cryptography chambers bearing shelves of secure communications equipment with red labels that say “Top Secret -- Prohibited.”

“Thirty-four spies were on duty day and night to wiretap and spy on the important state and military information of our country,” she said.

Much as Soviet trawlers laden with electronic listening gear patrolled the coasts of the Western world in that era, U.S. naval vessels thinly disguised as civilian ships sought to eavesdrop on the communist world.

Within days of the Pueblo’s capture, Soviet KGB officers are believed to have whisked some of the documents, codebooks and listening gear from the ship to Moscow.

For decades, the North Koreans kept the Pueblo docked in Wonsan, the port near the point of capture. But in 1999, they ran their own flag up the mast and sailed the ship for nine days in international waters to Pyongyang. Why U.S. naval forces based in South Korea and Japan didn't move in to seize the ship then hasn't been explained.

Russell, the former crew member, said senior Pentagon naval officers told a retired Pueblo commander that “they were told, ‘Hands off.’ Let them move the ship.”

Some of the history surrounding the USS Pueblo’s capture has yet to emerge, said Russell, who's filed numerous Freedom of Information Act requests seeking records from the Defense and State departments and the National Archives, to little avail. “It’s not all on the table yet,” he said.

The Pueblo has never been decommissioned by the Navy and remains the only active-duty vessel in enemy hands.

North Korea has hinted at least twice that it would be willing to repatriate the Pueblo, first to Donald Gregg, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and top aide to President George H.W. Bush, in 2005 and then this April to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who toured the ship.

Afterward, the State Department denied that a formal offer had been made and said that the USS Pueblo “should be returned to the United States.” North Korea’s seizure of the vessel and its detention of the crew were “in violation of international law.”

Aboard the vessel, there is no hint of any return to U.S. hands.

The video declares that the ship’s presence in Pyongyang “will testify century after century (of) the crimes of aggression played by U.S. imperialists against the Korean people.”

Li, the tour guide, added: “If we sent back the ship, it would be a crime to the Korean people.”

2007 McClatchy Newspapers


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: korea; nkorea; northkorea; tourism; usnavy; usspueblo
The video declares that the ship’s presence in Pyongyang “will testify century after century (of) the crimes of aggression played by U.S. imperialists against the Korean people.”

Li, the tour guide, added: “If we sent back the ship, it would be a crime to the Korean people.”

1 posted on 09/07/2007 7:41:30 PM PDT by Dubya
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: All

I wonder how much money we give them each year?


2 posted on 09/07/2007 7:43:26 PM PDT by Dubya (Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but by me)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dubya; TigerLikesRooster; AmericanInTokyo; SevenofNine

ping.


3 posted on 09/07/2007 7:45:22 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar (Who would the terrorists vote for?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Dubya
...in 1999, they ran their own flag up the mast and sailed the ship for nine days in international waters to Pyongyang. Why U.S. naval forces based in South Korea and Japan didn't move in to seize the ship then hasn't been explained. Russell, the former crew member, said senior Pentagon naval officers told a retired Pueblo commander that “they were told, ‘Hands off.’ Let them move the ship.”

Ahhh yes, another 'legacy' of Emperor Biligula and his pathetic SecState Maddy the Dancing Midget.
4 posted on 09/07/2007 7:45:44 PM PDT by mkjessup (Jan 20, 2009 - "We Don't Know. Where Rudy Went. Just Glad He's Not. The President. Burma Shave.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dubya

I’m sure the old WLR-1 faceplate is still in place.


5 posted on 09/07/2007 7:45:48 PM PDT by doc1019 (Fred Thompson '08)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All

The USS PUEBLO was a U. S. Navy vessel sent on an intelligence mission off the coast of North Korea. On January 23, 1968, the USS PUEBLO was attacked by North Korean naval vessels and MiG jets. One man was killed and several were wounded. The Eighty-two surviving crew members were captured and held prisoner for 11 months. The pages on this site tell the story of the Pueblo Incident and present the USS PUEBLO Veteran's Association.

Official Navy Photograph

6 posted on 09/07/2007 7:46:49 PM PDT by Dubya (Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but by me)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Dubya
I don't know.

But a Bush-Condi "Peace Treaty" with North Korea, a complete capitulation from the days of "regime change" and "axis of evil", is coming by Tax Day, 2008.

Mark my word. Lameduck Legacy, donchya know.

7 posted on 09/07/2007 7:49:58 PM PDT by AmericanInTokyo (Visit this thread 1-hour from now. In that time, an average of 416.6 more ILLEGALS will be in the US)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: All

The U.S.S. Pueblo, a spy ship seized by North Korea in 1968, is now docked along the Taedong River in Pyongyang.

8 posted on 09/07/2007 7:50:27 PM PDT by Dubya (Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but by me)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: mkjessup

What? And (them) risking the North Koreans releasing the hidden audio and video tapes of Roger Clinton in Pyongyang?


9 posted on 09/07/2007 7:52:19 PM PDT by AmericanInTokyo (Visit this thread 1-hour from now. In that time, an average of 416.6 more ILLEGALS will be in the US)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Dubya
But in 1999, they ran their own flag up the mast and sailed the ship for nine days in international waters to Pyongyang. Why U.S. naval forces based in South Korea and Japan didn't move in to seize the ship then hasn't been explained. Russell, the former crew member, said senior Pentagon naval officers told a retired Pueblo commander that “they were told, ‘Hands off.’ Let them move the ship.”

GREAT debate question for Hillary. Now who would tell senior Pentagon officials what to do in 1999?

10 posted on 09/07/2007 7:53:20 PM PDT by NonValueAdded (Fred Dalton Thompson for President)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dubya

“The photo was published in a U.S. newsmagazine with an explanation of the real meaning of the gesture, enraging the North Koreans.” ................ Let me guess, Time? Newsweek?


11 posted on 09/07/2007 7:53:27 PM PDT by Bringbackthedraft
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AmericanInTokyo

Exactly.


12 posted on 09/07/2007 7:53:55 PM PDT by mkjessup (Jan 20, 2009 - "We Don't Know. Where Rudy Went. Just Glad He's Not. The President. Burma Shave.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Dubya

Maybe we should allow the Japanese to christen their new aircraft carriers by performing a re-enactment of Dec 7, 1941 but this time on the USS Pueblo and surrounding vessels wherever she might be.


13 posted on 09/07/2007 7:54:34 PM PDT by Cvengr (The violence of evil is met with the violence of righteousness, justice, love and grace.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
14 posted on 09/07/2007 7:55:19 PM PDT by Dubya (Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but by me)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: NonValueAdded
Your right. Why wasn’t it taken back? Because the Clintons would not offend other socialists.
15 posted on 09/07/2007 8:00:33 PM PDT by IrishCatholic (No local communist or socialist party chapter? Join the Democrats, it's the same thing.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Dubya
"Now a major tourist attraction, the vessel has become a floating symbol of anti-Americanism and the Cold War era. It draws some 1,000 people a day in organized tours designed to drum up patriotism."

Oh good grief. These people aren't 'tourists' in any way that we understand the word. These folks do whatever they are told.

16 posted on 09/07/2007 8:01:38 PM PDT by JustaDumbBlonde
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: doc1019

“I’m sure the old WLR-1 faceplate is still in place”

Probably a good collection of R-390’s as well.


17 posted on 09/07/2007 8:08:57 PM PDT by USN40VET
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Bringbackthedraft

18 posted on 09/07/2007 8:09:22 PM PDT by Stallone (Free Republic - The largest collection of volunteer Freedom Fighters the world has ever known)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Dubya

Personally they could have it


19 posted on 09/07/2007 8:13:10 PM PDT by SevenofNine ("We are Freepers, all your media belong to us, resistence is futile")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dubya
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who toured the ship.

I suppose he saluted every North Korean soldier in site. His "diplomacy" has really paid off.

20 posted on 09/07/2007 8:16:40 PM PDT by OCC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stallone
More Pueblo crew saluting.


21 posted on 09/07/2007 8:20:00 PM PDT by OCC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Dubya

How about a challenge to all seal teams. First team to demo the ship and make it out of N. korea has the bragging rights.


22 posted on 09/07/2007 8:20:12 PM PDT by Walkingfeather (u)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dubya

I would not lose sleep if their tourist attraction disappeared one night is a ball of flames and thunder.
I do not know what those monsters did to our people while they were in their custody, but I knew one of them for a year and a half while I was in Viet Nam. He would never speak about it at all.


23 posted on 09/07/2007 8:22:56 PM PDT by BuffaloJack (Before the government can give you a dollar it must first take it from another American)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: OCC

I remember when the Pueblo was captured.
After the crews return to San Diego, they were
taken around 7 blocks up the street from me to
the Naval Hospital.

Some yrs. later I had got to shake hands with
Loyd Bucher, the skipper


24 posted on 09/07/2007 8:26:14 PM PDT by SoCalPol (Duncan Hunter '08 Tough on WOT & Illegals)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Dubya
But in 1999, they ran their own flag up the mast and sailed the ship for nine days in international waters to Pyongyang. Why U.S. naval forces based in South Korea and Japan didn't move in to seize the ship then hasn't been explained.

Could you remind me, and the reporter, who was Commander in Chief in 1999?

25 posted on 09/07/2007 8:27:45 PM PDT by PAR35
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mkjessup

That damn ship should have been sunk, right then. If not then, sink it at the pier now.


26 posted on 09/07/2007 8:31:44 PM PDT by quikdrw (Life is tough....it's even tougher if you are stupid.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: SoCalPol
Some yrs. later I had got to shake hands with Loyd Bucher, the skipper

Interesting, what were the circumstances that you got to meet him? The Chi-coms ramming our P-3 in 2001 seems eerily similar to the Pueblo event.

27 posted on 09/07/2007 8:36:59 PM PDT by OCC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Bringbackthedraft
“The photo was published in a U.S. newsmagazine with an explanation of the real meaning of the gesture, enraging the North Koreans.” ................ Let me guess, Time? Newsweek?

Correct on your first guess! It was Time that triggered the borderline-fatal weeks of beatings that the crew endured after the Koreans showed them the Time magazine copy in an assembly.

From Bucher's account of their Time-Out:

"...threatened me with speedy execution after an [absolutely inevitable] trial. He was pretty convincing about it and I was returned to my cell feeling that my chances for survival had sunk to zero."

"Radioman Hayes had his jaw broken."

"...beatings were repeated twice a day and at least once a night over the next several days and soon my ribs felt cracked, my guts ruptured, my testicles ready to burst, and my face a pulp with all my front teeth loosened and almost falling out."

"I was by now staggering down the corridor once again urinating blood in a latrine fouled with the vomit of men sickened by their injuries."

Gosh, how'd you do it? We conservatives just seem psychic sometimes.

28 posted on 09/07/2007 8:40:02 PM PDT by InMemoriam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: OCC

The Pueblo was based here originally.
AS with most of the crew, they continued on
here in San Diego.

During a rally for the troops during the early
WOT Boucher was there as was Duncan Hunter.
I had a chance to speak to him and shake his hand.
He is buried here at Fr. Rosecrans National Cem.


29 posted on 09/07/2007 8:55:57 PM PDT by SoCalPol (Duncan Hunter '08 Tough on WOT & Illegals)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: InMemoriam

“The photo was published in a U.S. newsmagazine with an explanation of the real meaning of the gesture, enraging the North Koreans.” ................ Let me guess, Time? Newsweek?

Traitors then, traitors now. But this time we have the Internet and Free Republic!;)


30 posted on 09/07/2007 10:05:00 PM PDT by Frank_2001
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: quikdrw
That damn ship should have been sunk, right then. If not then, sink it at the pier now.

You bet, and preferably with Comrade Chia Pet on board mugging for the cameras.
31 posted on 09/07/2007 11:37:56 PM PDT by mkjessup (Jan 20, 2009 - "We Don't Know. Where Rudy Went. Just Glad He's Not. The President. Burma Shave.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Walkingfeather
How about a challenge to all seal teams. First team to demo the ship and make it out of N. korea has the bragging rights.

It's a little late for that, but I like the way you think.....

32 posted on 09/08/2007 5:55:54 AM PDT by Thermalseeker (Made in China: Treat those three words like a warning label)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Dubya

Stephen Decateur and his crew must be turning in their graves.

We should bomb it.


33 posted on 09/08/2007 6:01:55 AM PDT by ZULU (Non nobis, non nobis Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. God, guts and guns made America great.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Thermalseeker

Why?


34 posted on 09/08/2007 7:19:14 AM PDT by Walkingfeather (u)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: Walkingfeather
Why?

1.5 Million North Korean troops poised at the 38th parallel, waiting to invade the south and itching for a reason. All they need is an "international incident" to set them moving south....especially if they think our military is stretched thin with Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the battles going on with the war against the Islamo-Facists.....

35 posted on 09/10/2007 4:47:41 AM PDT by Thermalseeker (Made in China: Treat those three words like a warning label)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: Dubya
The worst part this is the second ship of this type destroyed by a country.
Good read:
http://home.cfl.rr.com/gidusko/liberty/

You may not belive it

36 posted on 09/10/2007 5:16:08 AM PDT by jim70340
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: jim70340

Yes I know about the USS Liberty. Very sad that we did nothing about it.


37 posted on 09/10/2007 8:18:01 AM PDT by Dubya (Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,but by me)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: Dubya

I was a Sp4 stationed at the 121st Evac Hosp in 1968 and was sent to meet the crew when they were released. I was in that 1st bus you see in that pic at the bridge of no return. Capt.Bucher was seated between to men that immediately started asking him questions about what documents were destroyed and before he could complete his answer was asked a question by the other person who I’m guessing was either Naval Intel or CIA. The crew was taken to the 121st for medical exams and the next day sent home. For a 19 y/o it was quite an experience.


38 posted on 01/23/2014 5:07:08 AM PST by rick43515
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson