The American POW who Chose China

The BBC features an interview with David Hawkins, an American Korean War veteran and prisoner of war who opted to move to China after the armistice. He spent three years there before returning to the US, first studying in Beijing and later working as a truck driver in Wuhan.

“I don’t think it ever occurred to the US or the Army that there would be GIs that would choose to go somewhere other than their own country,” Mr Hawkins says, more than six decades after he fought Communist Korean and Chinese soldiers in the frozen mud along the 38th Parallel.

When the war ended in 1953, tens of thousands of Korean and Chinese prisoners of war chose life in the US over their own homelands.

But America, in the grip of anti-communist fervour, was shocked when 20 of its own young soldiers defected to China.

David Hawkins was just 17 years old when he was wounded in battle and captured. Held prisoner for more than three years, when the war ended he decided not to return home.

“My reasoning was, they really have embraced this socialism so let me see what it is like – let me check it out,” he says.

October 27, 2011 12:17 AM
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