DMZ Defectors to North Korea
- Abshier, Larry Allen - 1962
- Chong, Roy - 1979
- Dresnock, Pfc. James Joseph - 1962
- Jenkins, Sgt. Charles Robert - 1965
- Parrish, Cpl. Jerry Wayne - 1963
- White, Pfc. Joseph T. - 1982
Abshier, Pvt. Larry Allen - Nicknamed "Lennie" in
North Korea, he defected in May of 1962, becoming the first DMZ
veteran to defect. He was serving with the 1st
Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division when
he crossed into North Korea. Born in Urbana, Illinois in
1943, he died of a heart attack in Pyongyang on July 11, 1983.
He was married, but the couple had no children.
Dresnock, Pfc. James Joseph - Son of Joseph and
Margaret Lucille Mizelle Dresnok, he was born in Norfolk,
Virginia, on November 24, 1941. He joined the US Army the
day after his 17th birthday. He was serving as a private
in the 1st Cavalry Division in South Korea when he got in
trouble for forging documents. Rather than face
disciplinary actions, he defected to North Korea. He was
married twice after defecting and was the father of Theodore
"Ted" Ricardo Dresnok (born 1980), James Gabriel Dresnock (born
1982) and Tony (born 2001). Dresnock was an actor in
propaganda films and an English tutor in Pyoungyang. He
died of a stroke in November of 2016.
Parrish, Cpl. Jerry Wayne - Born March 10, 1944 in
Morganfield, Kentucky, Corporal White defected to North Korea on
December 6, 1963. He stated that he was afraid to return
to the States after his army stint because he thought his
father-in-law would kill him. He became a teacher at North
Korea's Reconnaissance Bureau Foreign Language College, a
military school in Pyongyang. He married a Lebanese woman named
Siham Shraiteh and they had three sons. Jerry's Korean
name was Kim Yu-il. He died on August 25, 1998 of kidney
Jenkins, Charles Robert - Born on February 18, 1940 in
Rich Square, North Carolina. He joined the National Guard
in 1955 and then the Regular Army in 1958. He served with
the 1st Cavalry Division (1960-61). He defected to North
Korea on January 4, 1965 because of fears of being transferred
to Vietnam. He married Hitomi Soga and they had two
daughters, Roberta Mika Jenkins (born 1983) and Brinda Carol
Jenkins (born 1985). He petitioned for a pardon by the
United States but was rejected. He also was rejected for
asylum by the Soviet Union in 1966. Thirty-nine years
after his defection to North Korea he finally left the country
for Japan. He and Jim Frederick co-authored the book,
The Reluctant Communist. Jenkins died December 11,
2017 in Sado, Niigata, Japan.
Chung, Roy (aka Chung Ryeu Sup) - Born circa 1957,
Chung died circa 2004. Chung and his family were South
Korean immigrants who arrived in the United States in 1973.
According to his father, Chung Soo-oh, he had joined the Army to
get education benefits. He disappeared and was reported AWOL on
June 5, 1979, while serving with his unit near Bayreuth, West
Germany (about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the borders of
Czechoslovakia and East Germany). After 30 days he became
classified as a deserter. He was 22 and a Private First Class.
Two months after his disappearance in Europe, North Korea's
international broadcasting service Radio Pyongyang (now Voice of
Korea) announced his defection, stating that he "could no longer
endure the disgraceful life of national insult and maltreatment
he had to lead in the U.S. imperialist aggressor Army."
White, Pfc. Joseph - son of Norval and Kathleen White
of St. Louis. Last known US defector to North Korea.
After investigation, the Army concluded that White defected to
North Korea of his own free will on August 28, 1982 while on
duty at Guard Post Ouellette. Among the last Americans to
see him were his roommate, Pfc. David Chapman and the unit's
Catholic chaplain. His parents received a letter from him
in February of 1983 stating that he was a tutor of English in
Korea and was happy. His family received another letter
from North Korea on Joseph's 24th birthday (November 5, 1985).
The writer stated that White drowned during an outing with
friends in the Chongchon River.