In 1941, James Joseph Dresnok was born in Richmond, Virginia. James had a troubled childhood and enlisted in the US armed forces one day after his 17th birthday. After joining the military, Dresnok was positioned in the US and married an American girl. He was soon deployed to West Germany and served at a US military post for two years. Upon his return to the states, Dresnok discovered that his wife was living with another man. He got a divorce and reenlisted in the army.

In the early 1960s, James Dresnok was shipped to South Korea. He was positioned along the Korean Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Soon after his arrival, Dresnok was faced with a court martial after forging signatures on military paperwork. It has been revealed that he used the documents as permission to leave the base. On August 15, 1962, while his fellow soldiers were eating lunch, James Dresnok ran across an open minefield in broad daylight. He entered North Korean territory and was quickly apprehended by enemy soldiers. Dresnok was taken by train to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, and interrogated. He ultimately convinced the North Korean government that he was not a threat and was given permission to settle in the area.

During the 1960s, James Dresnok participated in several propaganda efforts on behalf of the North Korean government. Along with three other US defectors, Dresnok regularly appeared in magazines and attempted to persuade American soldiers to enter North Korea. He became known for using a loudspeaker to send propaganda over enemy lines.

In 1966, James Dresnok attempted to gain asylum at the Soviet embassy in Pyongyang, but was turned over to the North Korean authorities. Since that time, he has decided to settle in North Korea and assimilate. Beginning in 1978, James Dresnok was cast in several North Korean films, including the 20-part series Unsung Heroes, in which he played an American villain. As a result of the exposure, Dresnok has become a celebrity in North Korea. He is also known for translating the North Korean leader Kim Il-sung’s writings into English.

Since living in North Korea, James Dresnok has been married on two separate occasions and has three children. Today, he is widely regarded as one of the last United States defectors alive in North Korea.




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