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Location: Halstead, Kansas, United States

This is my seventh year at Halstead which is also where I live with my wife and my soon to be two year old daughter.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

An Interesting Coincidence

Just this past week in class we were dicussing the Korean and Vietnam War. It was a great question and answer period that had some very good questions and follow up discussion. I really enjoyed it and I think it was good for the students. Anyway, one of the subjects that we talked about was teh Pueblo Incident. Right after the discussion I came across this article about the current status of the USS Pueblo. Take note of the comments from the tourist pamplets (who would take a vaction to North Korea??)

PYONGYANG (AFP) - In North Korea's decades-long struggle with the United States, it is perhaps the Communist nation's favourite trophy.

The USS Pueblo, a 53.8 metre-long (176.5 foot-long) ship the North Koreans seized in 1968 in a move that almost brought the nations to war, remains docked in one of the most prominent positions of the Taedong River in Pyongyang.

Foreigners are brought to the Pueblo on government-controlled tour packages and media visits to recall the time North Korea, as a tourist pamphlet says, brought the "US imperialists ... to their knees".

"Although the government of the US submitted the surrender documents, the Pueblo couldn't return to its country, for it is a permanent trophy of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)," the pamphlet says.

According to the North Koreans, their patrol boats seized the Pueblo after the vessel had been caught spying in its territorial waters.

The incident occurred as tensions between the two nations were starting to heat up again amid the uneasy armistice that was brokered to end the 1950-53 Korean War.

One crew member was killed in the takeover of the Pueblo and the other 82 brought to Pyongyang for an 11-month saga that severely embarrassed and infuriated the United States.

The US version of events was that the Pueblo was an intelligence gathering vessel in international waters off the coast of North Korea when the North Koreans attacked it.

North Korea was adamant the vessel was an intruding spy ship and refused to release the crew until the US admitted its guilt.

During the standoff, the US built up its military forces around North Korea but the Stalinist nation refused to budge.

The crew members were filmed signing a letter of apology and confessing, although they later said they only did so because of pressure from the North Koreans.

The crew was finally released after almost a year when the US government reluctantly signed a letter admitting the Pueblo was a spy ship and had entered North Korean waters.

Thirty-seven years later, the North Korean government and military continue to bask in their "victory".

"The people of the world unanimously saw ... the might of the US was shattered again by the Korean people," the commentator in a DVD documentary that is shown to visitors in the Pueblo's mess hall says.

The vessel, which the US navy website says remains the property of the United States, has been kept in relatively good condition with the North Koreans striving to present it in all its glory.

Each artefact, from the decoding room to the vessel's plaque, provides enduring ammunition for the North Korean government in its efforts to boost the morale of the Korean People's Army (KPA).

"The veterans who captured the Pueblo and the new soldiers of the KPA say; 'Whoever makes a reckless attack upon our country will never return alive like the Pueblo!'," the tourist brochure says.

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