The USS Pueblo went on display in North Korea this week, sporting a fresh coat of paint and the reminders of the only US Navy ship still being held by a foreign government.
North Korea captured the USS Pueblo in the late 1960s off the country’s east coast. After a brief firefight, during which one US crew member was killed, the ship was seized.
While its crew was eventually released, North Korea kept the ship, reports The Huffington Post. And now, the Pueblo will be the centerpiece of the country’s renovated war museum along the Pothong River.
It was unveiled this week as part of what North Korea calls “Victory Day,” or the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice to halt the Korean War.
UPI notes that the North Korean government reportedly hopes the displaying of the USS Pueblo will serve as a reminder of how the country can stand up to US power.
But it didn’t take much to capture the US Navy ship on January 23, 1968. The lightly-armed intelligence ship was surrounded by enemy ships and fighter jets. While the crew attempted to destroy intelligence materials on board, they were not completely successful. Unfortunately, the USS Pueblo’s paper shredder jammed, leading the crew to burn papers in trash cans.
Despite being held by North Korea, the USS Pueblo is still a commissioned US Navy vessel — one that the US government still hopes will be returned one day. Meanwhile, the ship’s survivors still bear the marks, inside and out, of 11 months they spent in captivity in North Korea. Earl Phares, who was cleaning up after lunch when the attack happened, recalled:
“The Koreans basically told us, they put stuff in front of us, they said you were here, you were spying, you will be shot as spies. Everybody got the same amount of beatings in the beginning.”
The displaying of the USS Pueblo in North Korea was also an unfortunate sign for its former crew, which is still campaigning for its return. Phares commented, “I’ll never give up, but I don’t think it’s ever coming back.”
With the continued tensions between North Korea and the United States, it is unlikely the USS Pueblo will be moved from its spot at the nation’s war museum.
[Image by calflier001 via Wikimedia Commons]