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Last US defector to North Korea died pledging loyalty to the 'great leader Kim Jong-Un'

His sons confirmed the death.

Kim Jong-Un
Kim Jong-Un
Image: AP/PA Images

THE ONLY US soldier known still to be living in North Korea after defecting more than five decades ago died last year pledging loyalty to the “great leader Kim Jong-Un”, his sons said.

James Joseph Dresnok was among just a handful of American servicemen to desert following the 1950-53 Korean War, crossing the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone in 1962.

He went on to appear in North Korean propaganda films and was believed to be the last US military defector in the country, the others all having died or been allowed to leave.

In a video interview posted on the state-run Uriminzokkiri website, Ted and James Dresnok, his two adult sons, confirmed that their father suffered a fatal stroke in November last year.

“Our father was in the arms of the republic and received only the love and care of the party until his passing at age 74,” said Ted Dresnok, the elder of the two.

Brown-haired and hazel-eyed, he wore a Korean People’s Army uniform in the video like his brother, adorned with a badge depicting the North’s founder Kim Il-Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong-Il.

Both men were born in North Korea and spoke Korean with a thick Northern accent.

“Our father asked us to render devoted service to our great leader Kim Jong-Un,” said Ted Dresnok, who also goes by the Korean name Hong Soon-Chol.

Their comments were similar to those of ordinary North Koreans, who normally only ever express officially approved sentiments when speaking for a foreign audience.

It was the brothers’ second appearance on the programme, after they praised the country in a May 2016 interview.

Their mother is said to have been Doina Bumbea, a Romanian whose family say she was kidnapped by Pyongyang.

Another American soldier defector, Charles Jenkins, married Japanese abductee Hitomi Soga within weeks of meeting her in the North.

Soga was allowed to leave in 2002, and Jenkins and their two daughters followed suit two years later. He was court-martialled for desertion and given a 30-day custodial sentence. They now live on a small Japanese island where he makes a living selling rice crackers.

Four other post-1953 US army deserters are all believed to have died in the North.

© – AFP, 2017

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