News / USA

    Former N. Korea Prisoner Sees Pueblo as Cautionary Tale

    North Korea Held Americans Prisoner Decades Agoi
    X
    Kane Farabaugh
    November 08, 2014 8:07 PM
    In 1968, North Korea captured the USS Pueblo and took the ship’s 82 crew members captive for nearly a year. The incident cast a long shadow over relations with Pyongyang, which on Saturday unexpectedly released two other detained Americans. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh spoke with the Pueblo’s former executive officer, for whom the ordeal is never far from mind.
    North Korea Held Americans Prisoner Decades Ago

    In 1968, North Korea captured the USS Pueblo and took the ship’s 82 crew members captive for nearly a year.

    The so-called "Pueblo incident" cast a long shadow over relations with Pyongyang, which on Saturday unexpectedly released two other detained Americans. The American sailors suffered physical and mental abuse that, their former executive officer said, is never far from mind.

    Edward R. Murphy was second in command of the Pueblo while on a mission in the Sea of Japan to gather intelligence on Soviet and North Korean activity.

    Several ships had harassed the Pueblo for days, he said. But on January 23, 1968, North Korean torpedo boats opened fire on his poorly equipped vessel.

    "There was an exchange of fire, but it was one way, because we didn’t fire. We couldn’t man the weapon," Murphy said.

    The attack killed one sailor. Murphy and nine others were wounded.

    FILE - A North Korean guide poses near a machine gun on the spy ship USS Pueblo, now a tourist attraction in Pyongyang.
    FILE - A North Korean guide poses near a machine gun on the spy ship USS Pueblo, now a tourist attraction in Pyongyang.

    The North Koreans took over the ship and some of its classified material. They immediately transported the crew to Pyongyang, where Murphy said the abuse began.

    "They’re beating you with rifle butts and karate kicking you, and they actually beat the side of my head," said Murphy. "… My ear lobe was separated."

    An 11-month ordeal

    Murphy’s ordeal lasted for 11 months while the U.S. government worked to secure the crew’s release.

    Murphy was one of the last to cross to freedom over the so-called Bridge of No Return in the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

    In the years since then, his impression of North Korea has not improved. "That’s not a very friendly country toward Americans," he said. "Their people are trained to hate us."

    A repeat of history

    Forty years after his own detention, Murphy saw history repeating itself when North Korea imprisoned several American visitors to the country.

    "They haven’t changed much," he said of North Koreans. "The only value of the political prisoner is propaganda, and the more the U.S. press publicizes an event, the more the North Koreans love it, the more they are going to persist."

    "What the North Koreans want is direct talks with the United States," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has traveled to North Korea three times and helped secure the release of other Americans.

    The North Koreans said they were willing to receive him again, but he was frustrated by the conditions they set.

    "The proviso they put on it is that I would have to go as an official representative of the U.S. government," Carter said. "I informed the U.S. State Department about this, but the American government has decided that they do not want to send me over if I am an official representative of the U.S. government."

    Pueblo as tourist attraction

    Propaganda value has kept the USS Pueblo on display in North Korea. The captured American spy ship, which remains one of the oldest commissioned ships in the U.S. Navy, is a tourist attraction in Pyongyang.

    "I think it’s a tragedy," Murphy said. "That ship should have come home with the crew."

    Murphy’s mistreatment at the hands of the North Koreans is still evident in the way he walks today. He hopes his story, and the stories of other Americans detained in the communist country in recent years, will serve as a cautionary tale to those who seek to voluntarily travel to North Korea.


    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora