An American soldier who crossed the demilitarized zone and defected to North Korea in 1962 died in November of last year, according to two of his adult sons.
In a video posted to a pro-North Korea website, the sons revealed that James Joseph Dresnok died from a stroke at the age of 74, according to The New York Times.
“My father finished his life with no regrets,” James Dresnok Jr. told an interviewer on Aug. 15. “If he had any regret, it was that he died early, missing more loving care from the party and the fatherland.”
In the video, Dresnok’s two sons speak only in Korean and wear military officers’ uniforms. They were both born in Pyongyang and are now believed to be in their 30s, the Times reported.
After joining the US Army and doing a stint in West Germany, then-Pfc. Dresnok was stationed along the DMZ in South Korea. His wife had recently divorced him and he was facing a court-martial for forging signatures on passes to leave his base, according to CBS News.
“I was fed up with my childhood, my marriage my military life, everything. I was finished. There’s only one place to go,” Dresnok told filmmakers for the 2006 documentary “Crossing the Line.” “On August 15th, at noon in broad daylight when everybody was eating lunch, I hit the road. Yes I was afraid. Am I gonna live or die? And when I stepped into the minefield and I seen it with my own eyes, I started sweating. I crossed over, looking for my new life.”
He was quickly apprehended by North Korean soldiers, and later taken to Pyongyang for interrogation. He became something of a celebrity in North Korea for depicting “evil” American soldiers in propaganda films.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.