Americans in North Korea

Americans in North Korea consist mainly of defectors and prisoners of war during the Korean War as well as their locally born descendants.

Prisoners of war[]

On September 17, 1996, The New York Times reported the possible presence of American POWs in North Korea, citing declassified documents. The documents showed that the U.S. Defense Department knew in December 1953 that "more than 900 American troops were alive at the end of the war but were never released by the North Koreans". The Pentagon did not confirm the report, saying it had no clear evidence that any Americans were being held against their will in North Korea but pledged to continue to investigate accounts of defectors and others who said they had seen American prisoners there. The North Korean government has said it is not holding any Americans.[1]

Notable people[]

Korean War[]

Operation Big Switch, the exchange of remaining prisoners of war, commenced in early August 1953 and lasted into December. During that period, some 21 American soldiers refused to return to their homeland and decided to stay in the country (along with one British soldier and 327 South Koreans).[2]

Shortly before the deadline was about to expire, Americans south of the DMZ broadcast a message to the defectors in Panmunjom, saying "We believe that there are some of you who desire repatriation." Defector Richard Corden shouted "Do any Americans want to go home?" and his fellow detainees answered "No!"[3]

Notable defectors[]

See also[]


  1. ^ U.S. Knew in 1953 North Koreans Held American P.O.W.'s. New York Times,September 17, 1996 article.
  2. ^ Operations Big and Little Switch
  3. ^ Crenson, Sharon L.; Mendoza, Martha (April 7, 2002). "Korea Vets Bear Stigma of American Talib Lindh". Los Angeles Times. AP. p. 2. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  4. ^ Edwards, page 79
  5. ^ Eyewitness: 1950: War of Unification
  6. ^ Charles Robert Jenkins, page 115-116
  7. ^ a b c Choe, Sang-hun (April 25, 2014). "North Korea Says It Detained U.S. Tourist Seeking Shelter There". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2018. In 1962, Pfc. James Dresnok, who was stationed in South Korea, walked across the demilitarized zone in broad daylight. A court-martial for forging a pass had been looming at the time he defected. Once in the North, he joined Pvt. Larry Allen Abshier, who defected three months earlier. In December 1963, Specialist Jerry Wayne Parrish also defected...
  8. ^ a b c d e Kaiman, Jonathan (August 13, 2017). "Meet Charles Robert Jenkins, an American detained by North Korea for 40 years". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  9. ^ Ramzy, Austin (December 12, 2017). "Charles Jenkins, 77, U.S. Soldier Who Regretted Fleeing to North Korea, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  10. ^ Ritchie, Joe; Ahn, Jaehoon (September 13, 1979). "South Korean, Who Joined U.S. Army, Reportedly Defected to North Korea". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  11. ^ "U.S. Now Says Soldier Went Over to the North Koreans Voluntarily". The New York Times. United Press International. September 3, 1982. Retrieved February 6, 2018.