THE LAST U.S. DEFECTOR STILL LIVING IN NORTH KOREA SAYS HE WOULDN'T LEAVE FOR A BILLION DOLLARS IN HIS FIRST INTERVIEW -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY ON CBS
Army Deserter Joe Dresnok Speaks Out After 44 Years, Calling a Fellow Defector a Liar
The last American defector still living in North Korea says a billion dollars in gold couldn't entice him to leave the country he ran to 44 years ago. In the first communication from Joe Dresnok since he defected in 1962, the former G.I. also says his fellow defector, Charles Jenkins, who was permitted to leave North Korea, lied about him. Bob Simon's report will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Jan. 28 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Dresnok told his story to two British filmmakers, Dan Gordon and Nick Bonner, who have made a documentary based on it called "Crossing the Line." Gordon and Bonner, in addition to portions of their interview with Dresnok, also appear on 60 MINUTES.
"I don't have intentions of leaving, could give a s*&% if you put a billion damn dollars of gold on the table," Dresnok says about leaving North Korea. "I feel at home. I really feel at home. I wouldn't trade it for nothing," he says.
Dresnok became fed up with his life one summer day four decades ago. His wife had left him and he was in line for a court martial for sneaking off base to visit a Korean woman, so he deserted. "I was finished. There's only one place to go. Yes, I was afraid. Am I going to live or die? And when I stepped into the minefield and I seen [North Korea] with my own eyes, I started sweating," he recalls. "I crossed over, looking for my new life," says Dresnok.
In the North, Dresnok eventually met three other American deserters and all of them participated in propaganda activities, including films that depicted the U.S. as evil. He accuses one of those Americans, Charles Jenkins, a former Army sergeant, with lying about their time together. Jenkins was permitted to leave the country two years ago to join his Japanese wife. He said Dresnok had beaten him on the orders of North Korean authorities in a 60 MINUTES interview. Says Dresnok: "He's a liar. One day he tried to push me around with his so-called rank and there was two blows. I hit him and he hit the ground. I think you know Alice in Wonderland. Well, I just wonder if it's not Jenkins in Wonderland."
Dresnok didn't always feel at home; after fours years, he and the others sought asylum in the Soviet embassy. They were turned away. Faced with no other option, he succumbed to the North Korean indoctrination process, believe Gordon and Bonner. Dresnok told them, "They might be a different race...color, but God damn it, I'm going to sit down and learn their way of life....I did everything I could, learning the language...customs...greetings...life. I got to think like this...act like this. I've studied their revolutionary history, their lofty virtues about the great leader."
He apparently doesn't fear attack from his former country. Gordon and Bonner say Dresnok responded to their questions about the nuclear controversy between his adopted nation and the U.S. by saying he thought North Korea was ready if America attacks.