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Flipping The Bird

Written by: George Chittenden : 18 Mar 2020

This interesting photo was taken during the Cold War when an American ship, USS Pueblo, was captured by North Korean soldiers. The USS Pueblo was a United States Navy intelligence ship that was collecting intelligence on Russia and North Korea.

On January 23rd, 1968 she was approached by a North Korean vessel near the port of Wonsan. The Koreans were keen to board however the Americans explained that they were 15.8 miles from land, and therefore in international waters.

A further three North Korean vessels eventually appeared, along with fighter jets which flew overhead. The North Koreans boarded the Pueblo after opening fire on the American ship, killing one of her crew and wounding several others. Eighty-three Americans were taken captive and in the months that ensued were forced to feature in videos and photographs that were used in North Korean propaganda.

Hilariously in every photo that was taken of them, they protested by flashing the middle finger, and the North Koreans were unaware of the gesture's insulting meaning. Thankfully this story has a nice ending. On December 23rd, 1968, American officials agreed to sign a document stating that the Pueblo had trespassed in North Korean waters, but they did so openly stating that they didn’t believe in the statement they were signing. North Korea released the prisoners and they arrived back in America the very next day.

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