> However, in the 1968 October issue of Time the photo was captioned with the explanation of the gesture.
> Two months after that, the article was featured in the Oriental edition of Time, where the representatives of North Korea saw it. The captives called what followed the week of hell: the beatings were never this cruel.
Additionally the ship they were captured on, the USS Pueblo, is still being held by North Korea. The only us Navy ship held by a hostile nation. I believe the North Koreans have it set up as a museum.
It wasn’t just officers, it was the entire crew. I served with one about 7 years after.
> One night, they were shown several films about the superiority of North Korea over the Western world. The films had footage from the US and Great Britain. Americans noticed that the passersby who were giving a middle finger to the cameraman were not cut out of the film. It became clear that the Koreans were unfamiliar with the gesture. This is how the Digit Affair, as the participants called it, started.
> “The finger became an integral part of our anti-propaganda campaign,” Pueblo’s crew member Stu Russell explained later. “Any time a camera appeared, so did the fingers.”
> When guards asked questions, the Americans said the gesture was a Hawaiian greeting and good luck. “It could be considered pretty sick humor, but you do what you gotta do. It helped us survive and kept morale up,” Sergeant Bob Chicca said.
These guys actually did it for a purpose since the DPK were using them in propaganda videos they needed to fight back it wasn't just for shits and giggles. My hats off to them for being able to make best with what you got.
I went to the AF sere school for training. It is maybe a 2 to 3 week course. At one point in time, I ended up in the simulated the POW camp. I was being interrogated and rubbed my eye using my middle finger. They recorded all of the interrogations and they made a highlight reel of the camp. Video started off with me flipping off the camera. Most every audience member caught it.
The captors spread the expression among North Koreans and to this day U.S.-DPRK relations are strained as North Korean negotiators give the finger to their American counter parts anytime the two sides meet to negotiate a deal.
Edit: about the middle finger part; not the held captive part
I heard this story as a kid but I mixed up the facts and thought it was Vietnam. I've been trying to find it with no luck. I was started to think I imagined it. Thanks for the post.
Were they the same people who said that they 'Pean' North Korea when they surrendered, but pronounced it 'pee on'?