A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’ - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Just in time for Thanksgiving, WATM brings you breaking news to remind you to to feel especially grateful: North Korea is the worst. Sure, America might have super high COVID rates and a little election chaos, but at least you don’t feel the need to defect by vaulting a 12′ barbed wire fence to your freedom. That’s right, a North Korean gymnast mustered all of his talent and courage combined with a healthy amount of desperation and hope, and vaulted a border wall into South Korea to seek asylum.

According to the Chosun Ilibo, the 20-something man climbed an iron pole and used the height to jump over the border fence. He was then spotted about a mile south of the border by South Korean forces using a thermal observation device. The man was promptly detained, identified himself as a former gymnast and reportedly requested political asylum.

Officials were so taken aback by his feat that they asked him to demonstrate twice how he was able to jump over the three-meter fence, according to the BBC’s Seoul correspondent. Authorities vowed to investigate why hi-tech security systems did not work.

According to the London Telegraph, “the audacious defection sparked alarm that the high security demilitarized zone, separating North from South, had been successfully crossed. The four-kilometre-wide, 250-kilometre-long strip is fortified by fences, minefields and armed sentry posts. Few defectors take the dangerous option of trying to break through, with most of the 33,000 who have fled North Korea since the ’90s opting for risky but more achievable routes through China.”

And, just because we love you and know how much you love reading about North Korea, here are 7 facts about North Korea from our good friends at Business Insider:

1. North Korea ranks 51st in population, but has one of the largest standing militaries

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
The North Korean military. 

CIA data ranks North Korea’s estimated 25 million-person population 51st out of the world’s nations. North Korea’s outsized military is among the most powerful in the world, boasting approximately 1,190,000 active-duty troops, according to Newsweek.

China, the world’s leader in both population (over 1.3 billion) and military size (2.3 million), has a military that employs about 0.18% of the population.

North Korea’s military, on the other hand, employs about 4.7% of the total population.

CIA data ranks North Korea’s estimated 25 million-person population 51st out of the world’s nations. North Korea’s outsized military is among the most powerful in the world, boasting approximately 1,190,000 active-duty troops, according to Newsweek.

China, the world’s leader in both population (over 1.3 billion) and military size (2.3 million), has a military that employs about 0.18% of the population.

North Korea’s military, on the other hand, employs about 4.7% of the total population.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
Two North Korean children rollerblade. 

According to National Geographic photographer David Guttenfelder, rollerblading is popular “all over the country.” He reported that he couldn’t “count the number of rollerblading locations there are in the capital city [Pyongyang],” in particular.

3. Drugs are common and largely unregulated

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
Kim Jong-Un visiting Ryuwon Footwear Factory in Pyongyang. 

Drug use in North Korea is largely unregulated and quite common, with an estimated 30% of North Koreans using drugs, UPI reports. Known locally as yeoksam, marijuana is grown in such quantity that smugglers sneak it across the border into China for foreign sale, according to Radio Free Asia.

Public Radio International reports that methamphetamines, and specifically highly potent crystal meth, are also common in the DPRK, and though these drugs are not as openly permitted as pot, their use is widespread. Meth is often used less for recreational purposes and more as an appetite suppressant and to help workers toiling away for long hours at farms, factories, and in other trades.

4. North Korea is home to the world’s largest stadium

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
The May Day Stadium in Pyongyang. 

Not only is the DPRK home to the biggest stadium in the world in terms of seating capacity, but it holds that distinction by a massive margin. The Rungrado 1st of May Stadium (also known as May Day Stadium) has a total capacity of 150,000 people.

It dwarfs the next largest stadium, which is Ann Arbor’s Michigan Stadium, which accommodates 107,600 people. The venue is used for occasional sporting events, but its primary purpose is to host the annual Arirang Festival, a massive affair held each August and September that celebrates North Korean history, culture, and achievements.

5. North Korea holds political elections every five years

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
North Koreans clap during a mass rally organized to celebrate the re-election of Kim Jong Un as First Chairman of the ruling National Defense Commission, 2014. 

Strange as it might seem for a dictatorship to hold elections, North Korean citizens go to the polls every five years. However, the ballots they receive only list one candidate name, for the office of Supreme People’s Assembly deputy in their district, according to The Economist.

The only decision the voters have to make is whether to vote for the sole candidate listed or to vote against them, which involves placing their ballot in a separate box from the positive votes and having their identity noted, which could be considered an act of treason, The Economist reports.

6. North Korea exists in its own time zone

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
A clock hangs above chairs inside a waiting room at the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital. 

As of August 15th, 2015, North Korea exists in its very own time zone, shifted at least a half-hour apart from any other place on earth, CNN reports. Pyongyang time is GMT+08:30, to be precise, and was adopted in an apparent return to the time the nation used prior to twentieth-century Japanese colonization.

7. For some North Koreans, life is improving

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
Munsu Water Park, North Korea. 

To be clear, for many North Koreans almost every day is a struggle where food shortages, horrid work conditions, and government oppression define life. But for some DPRK citizens, everyday life bears some similarities to the rest of the world, NPR reports.

More and more North Koreans have access to mobile phones, DVD players, and other devices that were virtually unknown less than a generation ago, according to NPR. Recreational opportunities including movie theaters, amusement and water parks, and more are common in Pyongyang and a handful of other population centers, and influence from the wider world increases more with each passing year, NPR reports.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Here’s the history of 10 bases that are named after Confederate soldiers

The United States is still grappling with the legacy of the Civil War, but legislators in the House of Representatives are moving to prevent the military from naming any assets — including bases and warships — after Confederate soldiers or any locations of Confederate victory, Politico reported.

A draft of the National Defense Authorization Act passed the House July 2019, and contains explicit language barring the practice. Even if this amendment is signed into law, it wouldn’t retroactively apply to assets currently honoring the Confederacy like the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, named for an important Confederate victory.

After a significant cultural reckoning with the legacy of the Confederacy, including the removal of statues and monuments honoring the Confederate dead, the military still uses 10 bases that honor Confederate soldiers — men that fought to uphold the practice of slavery.


“We are naming ships of the United States Navy after people who fought war against the United States,” a veteran told Navy Times.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers jump out of a UH-60 Blackhawk, while fellow Soldiers swim to shore, as part of a Helocast event at Mott Lake at the 2019 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., June 27, 2019. This year’s Best Warrior Competition will determine the top noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier who will represent the U.S. Army Reserve in the Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition later this year at Fort A.P. Hill, Va.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Rognstad)

Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina is named for Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg.

Fort Bragg is home to the Airborne and Special Operations Forces. Established in 1918 as Camp Bragg, the base is one of the largest military installations in the world and employs about 57,000 military personnel, according to the Army.

Fort Bragg is also named after Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general and West Point graduate who was born in Warrenton, North Carolina. The Army’s history of the base doesn’t mention Bragg’s Confederate ties, saying instead that the base bears his name because of his success in the Mexican-American War that began in 1846.

According to the National Park Service, Bragg had resigned from the Army and “was overseeing his Louisiana plantation when the [Civil] war began.”

Bragg was apointed a brigadier general in 1861, commanding defenses from Pensacola, Florida to Mobile, Alabama. He later commanded the Army of Tennessee, and after a series of defeats, went to Richmond to advise Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He died in 1876.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Marines with 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, head toward shooting point 26 aboard their Amphibious Assault Vehicles during a live fire exercise in participation with Mission Readiness Exercise at Fort. A.P. Hill, Va., June 18, 2019. The Reserve Marines are undergoing MRX to prepare for Integrated Training Exercise, which is an even larger scale training event that is necessary for the unit to operate efficiently for their upcoming deployment.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Markeith Hall)

Fort A.P. Hill is named for Ambrose Powell Hill, who was killed in the Civil War.

Fort A.P. Hill, located near Bowling Green, Virginia was established June 11, 1941 as a training installation, a role it still serves today. The Army estimates that 80,000 troops from all branches of the military trained here each year during the War on Terror. It also hosted the Boy Scout Jamboree every four years from 1981 to 2005, and in 2010 as well.

The Army calls A.P. (short for Ambrose Powell) Hill a “distinguished” Confederate general, and notes that John Wilkes Booth was killed nearby.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Ambrose Powell Hill was a Lieutenant General in the Confederate Army.

(Library of Congress)

A.P. Hill served in the Confederate army.

Hill was born in Culpeper, Virginia, and was a graduate of West Point. He died in 1865 at the Third Battle of Petersburg, according to Military.com.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Paratroopers file onto a C-17 aircraft for an airborne operation over Blackstone Army Airfield June 6. Many of the parachutists attended a morning ceremony at Fort Lee commemorating the airborne and other operations occuring 75 years ago on D-Day.

(Terrance Bell / US Army Garrison Fort Lee Public Affairs)

Fort Lee is named for Gen. Robert E. Lee, perhaps the most famous Confederate general.

Fort Lee, in Prince George County, Virginia, is named for Robert E. Lee, the Virginia general who was a slave owner. Fort Lee was established as Camp Lee in 1917, but the original site was dismantled after the end of World War I, but re-established during World War II. In 1950, it was formally renamed Fort Lee, and it’s now the Army’s third-largest training site.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

(The Library of Congress)

Robert E. Lee was one of the Confederacy’s most famous figures. He surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant in 1865, ending the Civil War.

The commander of the Confederate States Army, Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865. He was reportedly a cruel slavemaster, breaking up slave families, ordering runaway slaves to be mercilessly whipped, and captured and enslaved free Black people when his army fought in Pennsylvania, according to The Atlantic.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Parachutists line up for their flight on a Chinook helicopter Nov. 29 at Blackstone Army Airfield.

(Terrance Bell / US Army Garrison Fort Lee Public Affairs)

Fort Pickett is named for Maj. Gen. George Pickett, who led an eponymous, ill-fated charge in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Fort Pickett is a Virginia National Guard installation near Blackstone, Virginia. It was established as Camp Pickett on July 3, 1942 at 3:00 PM — 79 years to the hour after Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett began his charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, as the Virginia National Guard notes.

Fort Pickett hosts the Virginia National Guard and Air Guard.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett.

(Library of Congress)

Maj. Gen. George Pickett left the US Army to join the Confederate Army in 1861.

Pickett graduated last in his class from West Point in 1846. He lost more than half his command during the charge up Cemetery Ridge during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, according to the National Parks Service.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Darius Davis, a Combat Documentation Production Specialist with the 982nd Signal Company (Combat Camera)(Airborne), fires from the kneeling position during the M16 qualification range of the 335th Signal Command (Theater) Best Warrior Competition 2019 at Fort Gordon, Georgia, April 19, 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Leron Richards)

Fort Gordon is home to the US Army Cyber Corps and Signal Corps.

Fort Gordon was established as Camp Gordon in Georgia during World War II. German and Italian prisoners of war were kept there during the war, and the remains of 22 POWs are buried there, according to the Army.

Gordon rose to become a Confederate general.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Soldiers conduct pathfinder training at the Liberty Pickup Zone on post March 21, 2019. During this portion of the training Soldiers conduct a VIRS Transmission and airborne operations from UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The U.S. Army pathfinder School teaches Soldiers to infiltrate areas and set up parachute drop zones for airborne and air assault operations.

(U.S. Army photo by Patrick Albright)

Fort Benning, also in Georgia, is named for Brig. Gen. Henry Benning, who was born in Georgia.

Brig. Gen. Henry Benning was “an outstanding lawyer-turned-soldier from Columbus,” and the base honoring him was founded October 7, 1918, according to the Army.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

A C-12 Huron, from Fort Rucker, Alabama, arrives on the flight line at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 12, 2018. The aircraft evacuated to Barksdale as a proactive measure to prevent possible damage from Hurricane Florence.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lillian Miller)

Fort Rucker is named after Col. Edmund Rucker.

Fort Rucker, an Army Aviation training base in Alabama, was established May 1, 1942. Edmund Rucker was a Confederate colonel — not a general — and became an industrial leader in Alabama after the war. German and Italian prisoners of war were held nearby during World War II, according to the Army.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Louisiana National Guard Airmen and Soldiers compete in the Adjutant General’s Match at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana, Oct. 19-20, 2017.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Noshoba Davis)

Louisiana’s Camp Beauregard is named for Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard.

Louisiana’s National Guard calls Camp Beauregard, located in Pineville, Louisiana, home. Beauregard was a West Point graduate, and championed the use of what we now recognize as the Confederate flag, according to The Washington Post.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), clear an urban environment during brigade live fire exercise at Fort Polk, La. Mar.11, 2019

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Justin Wright)

Louisiana’s Fort Polk is named for Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk.

Polk was a second cousin of US President James Polk, and died during the Battle of Atlanta. Polk was a West Point graduate but served as an Episcopal priest until he joined the Confederacy, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Fort Polk, located in central Louisiana, hosts the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Students at Fort Hood Air Assault school conduct rappel operations. The Soldiers who participated in the training learned the basics of Air Assault operations from the instructors of the Phantom Warrior Academy.

(Photo by Sgt. Gregory Hunter)

Fort Hood is named for Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood.

Fort Hood opened in 1942 and is now the largest active-duty armored post in the Armed Forces, according to the Army. It’s named for John Bell Hood, who was a West Point graduate who served in the US Army until the Civil War, when he joined the Confederacy, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

US Marines are not only experimenting with a new aircraft-carrier concept, but they are also taking a fresh look at forming “mini” carrier strike groups to fill in when the carriers are called away.

The capable fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters are changing the way the service’s big amphibious assault ships — the centerpieces of the “gator navy” — go to war.

The Marine Corps is aggressively pushing ahead with the experimental “Lightning-carrier” concept, which involves arming the large flattops with a literal boatload of F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters to turn the traditional troop-transport ships into light carriers capable of boosting the overall firepower of the US carrier force.


A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

The USS Essex sails alongside the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg)

At the same time, the service and the US Navy are looking at making changes to amphibious readiness groups (ARGs), transforming them into miniature carrier strike groups (CSGs). An ARG typically consists of an amphibious assault ship, an amphibious transport dock, a landing-dock ship, and a contingent of Marine expeditionary forces.

“We’re definitely changing the way amphibs are employed, especially on the blue side — we’re no longer just the trucks that carry Marines that we used to be,” Lt. Cmdr. David Mahoney, the Amphibious Squadron 1 operations officer, said, according to a USNI News report on April 16, 2019.

The amphibious assault ship USS Essex, the lead capital ship for the Essex ARG, sailed into the Persian Gulf in fall 2018 as the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and its escort ships, which were initially expected to deploy to the Middle East, sailed into the north Atlantic in support of NATO.

“There was no carrier in 5th Fleet, so a lot of the CSG-like duties we started taking over just because we had to,” Mahoney said. “The ARG is now becoming almost like a mini CSG.”

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

F-35B Lightning II on the USS Essex.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Freeman)

“You can see that layered defense,” he said, pointing to the ARGs cooperation with destroyers and other warships and the increased capability provided by the multi-mission F-35s with advanced stealth and a powerful sensor suite. “This is what has to happen as the carriers are being sometimes sent elsewhere because the needs are rising elsewhere.”

The ARGs, especially in this time of a renewed great-power competition, are “definitely in high demand to fill those [CSG] roles as the Navy is spreading out further and further around the globe.”

Marine Corps F-35Bs, which are short-take-off vertical-landing aircraft built for operations aboard amphibious assault ships, flew into combat for the first time during the Essex ARG’s deployment. Amphibious assault ships lack the catapults and arresting wires used on aircraft carriers, and support only these jump jets and helicopters.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

F-35B Lightning II takes off from the USS Essex.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Francisco J. Diaz Jr.)

In February 2019, the F-35B achieved another first as fighters aboard the USS Wasp and carried out simulated strikes in “beast mode” — meaning it was operating with an external ordnance loadout — in the Pacific.

Recently, the Wasp sailed into the South China Sea with an unusually heavy configuration of at least 10 stealth fighters, significantly more than normal, for joint drills with the Philippines. During the Balikatan exercises, the ship was spotted running flight operations near the disputed Scarborough Shoal as part of the light-carrier experiment.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

The USS Wasp in the South China Sea.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker)

At the heart of the new “mini” CSGs is the “Lightning carrier,” an amphibious assault ship loaded up with as many as 20 F-35s for carrierlike operations. This concept, which the Marines began experimenting with in 2016, is a rebranded version of the “Harrier-carrier” concept, an earlier variation with AV-8 Harrier jump jets that served the military well for decades.

“While the amphibious assault ship will never replace the aircraft carrier,” the Marine Corps said in a 2017 report, “it can be complementary if employed in imaginative ways.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

5 video games that let you play actual military missions

Military games are awesome. They often have lots of explosions and gunplay, and the best ones take some care to honestly represent military life, imposing a moral cost for decisions or making you feel the loss of comrades in fighting. But it’s always a sweet bonus if you, as the player, are able to step in the shoes of warriors from history.

So these are five games that let you do just that, either commanding important missions from history or stepping into the boots of a participant. A quick admin note, though: These are games that let you play in a historical mission. They aren’t necessarily the most historically accurate, meaning the creators might have taken some liberties with details.


A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

(YouTube/MKIceAndFire)

Medal of Honor

The 2010 game Medal of Honor is set during the invasion of Afghanistan with a prologue that includes clearing Bagram Airfield and a main campaign centered on special operators in the Shahikot Valley. Eagle-eyed historians will recognize the story as a (loose) interpretation of Operation Anaconda, the largest battle of the invasion of Afghanistan complete with dozens of special operators, thousands of friendly soldiers, and about 1,000 guerrilla fighters.

While the names of individuals and units have all been changed, a lot of the key moments and terrain features from the actual battle are represented like when a SEAL is lost on Takur Ghar or the many times that members of Delta Force called in airstrikes on enemy forces.

(As a bonus, some versions of this game come with the 2002 Medal of Honor: Frontline which has some stunning depictions of real battles like the D-Day landings and Operation Market Garden, though even the remastered version has quaint graphics by modern standards.)

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

(YouTube/GamePlayShare)

Call of Duty 2

To be honest, there are really too many World War II shooters to list all of the ones with real missions, even if we dedicated an entire list to World War II. We went with Call of Duty 2 for this list. It features missions in North Africa, lets you play with the Rangers on Ponte du Hoc on D-Day, and a variety of other real missions besides.

The original Call of Duty has other World War II missions like the defense of “Pavlov’s House” in Stalingrad and the final assault on Berlin.

But don’t learn your history from Call of Duty games. The “Operation Pegasus” mission in the game has nothing to do with the actual World War II mission of the same name. And the commando assault on Eder Dam in the game is a far cry from the true “Dambusters” of history.

Battlefield Vietnam

Battlefield Vietnam is a well-received game about the Vietnam War (duh) originally released in 2004. The game is a little arcade-y with lots of run-and-gun action in settings like the Ho Chi Ming Trail, the Siege of Hue, and missions like Operation Flaming Dart.

Players can get behind the controls of lots of vehicles from the era including the iconic Patrol Boat-Riverine.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

(YouTube/Valefisk)

Company of Heroes

This is a real-time strategy game set in the American campaign to land at Normandy and then drive to Berlin. Company of Heroes sees the player commanding companies of soldiers in the 1st Infantry Division and 101st Airborne Division at battles from Carentan to Hill 192 to St. Lo.

The game doesn’t actually limit the player to what a company commander could do in the war. It gives players the options to upgrade all of their units and allows them to control armor, infantry, engineering, and other soldiers. But the maps feel different based on what battle is playing out, and they’re all destructible so you can fight house to house in St. Fromond or create chokepoints to slaughter German troops as they come through the village.

Ultimate General: Civil War

This Civil War strategy game has *checks notes*, all of the Civil War battles. There’s a Union campaign and a Confederate one, and each features dozens of battles and missions. These include both battles of Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chickamauga Creek, Cold Harbor, and much, much, more.

The size of the player’s force is decided by how well they do in each fight. So while you get to play all sorts of historical battles, realize that the actual forces at each fight are decided according to your performance, not according to historical accuracy. So be prepared for a Gettysburg where the Confederacy has three times the troops and wins.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How to open your beer like a breaching team

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the vet who needs his stocking stuffed:

~ .50 cal bottle openers to start the round (and the reminiscing) off right ~

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
Your beer doesn’t stand a chance.

Sometimes getting things rolling is the easy part. Like many entrepreneurs with a good idea, former SEAL Eli Crane found out that success, especially when it comes in a rush, can be a much more difficult hurdle to clear.

In Nov. 2014, Crane, along with his wife and co-founder, Jen, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank to pitch for investment in their boot-strapped company, Bottle Breacher. They went into it boasting a homemade (but sturdy) garage manufacturing set-up and $500k in sales of their flagship product, a bottle opener fashioned from recycled, authentic decommissioned .50 caliber bullet shells.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
Sound business practice: give the investor a good photo op.

Impressed by their story (and all a’flutter with the patriotic warm’n’fuzzies), Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary went halvsies on a $150k capital investment for 10% equity each. The Cranes had aced the most public version of an entrepreneurial rite of passage. Happy days all the way to the bank, right?

Well, yeah, but also some rough weeks ahead as the instant publicity they received from their appearance flooded their fulfillment queue with some 20,000 orders, drastically overmatching their output capacity. Bottle Breacher was in for a brutal bout of growing pains.

Happily, the same grit that got Crane through BUD/S on his second try – along with the smarts that led him to switch to business after 5 overseas deployments – came together in a massive Bottle Breacher systems overhaul. In just over a month, the Cranes identified and busted through their production bottleneck (yeah, sorry) and caught up on all their outstanding orders.

And that was good news because Crane is a genius at product iteration and the production backlog had also made it impossible for him to release a bunch of his newest designs. These days, Bottle Breacher sells Freedom Frags, Breacher BBQ Tools, Wine Bottle Breachers, Whiskey Bullets and much, much more in their quest to be the #1 supplier of patriotic party ammunition to a grateful and thirsty nation.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia wants America’s spot on the Human Rights Council

Russia wants a spot on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) following the US’s withdrawal on June 19, 2018.

Russia quickly swooped in on the empty seat and put forward its candidacy for a three-year term starting in 2021.

“The UNHRC operates on the basis of the principles of impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity, constructive dialogue and cooperation. It is a UN body that, like the entire UN system, is called upon to serve all Member States, not just one country or group of countries,” Russia’s UN mission said in a statement. “Unfortunately, our colleagues in Washington do not understand this or do not recognize it.”


Russia added that the US had attempted to use the council as an “obedient tool to promote only their interests” and punish unfavorable countries.

“Against this background, attempts by the US to blame the politicization of the work of the Council and the failure of its initiative by almost the whole world, including its traditional allies, seem cynical,” it said.

The US officially pulled out from the UNHRC on June 19, 2018, for being a “cesspool of political bias,” particularly against its ally Israel.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a press conference that the move was “not a retreat from human rights commitments,” and blasted the 47-member council as “a hypocritical and self serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
US Ambassador Nikki Haley

The human rights arm of the United Nations was established in 2006. Members grouped by region are voted in by the General Assembly for three year terms, and can be suspended if they are found to grossly violate human rights during their tenure.

Russia previously served one term on the council but lost its reelection in 2016 because of its support for the Assad regime’s war in Syria.

Other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and China, have been criticized by rights groups for their places on the council despite their systematic violations of human rights.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Humor

9 Navy SEAL memes that you’ll be afraid to laugh at

Since the halcyon days of World War II frogmen, Navy SEALs have completed some of the most dangerous missions while remaining hidden in shadows — until the tell-all book comes out, that is.

Although the few who have earned the beloved SEAL Trident are considered the toughest the military has to offer, like anybody, they also have a humorous side the world rarely gets to see — until now.

So, kick back, enjoy and try not to laugh too hard — they could be watching.


A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

We’re pretty sure they meant King Salman, not the king of upstream swimming.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Did you really think these memes were going to be disrespectful? If so, you’re crazier than we thought. We’re talking about the Navy SEALs here — we’re not taking that risk.

Articles

US ‘kill vehicle’ test destroys ballistic missile in space

The Pentagon’s oft-criticized missile defense program has scored a triumph, destroying a mock warhead over the Pacific Ocean with an interceptor that is key to protecting U.S. territory from a North Korean attack.


Vice Adm. Jim Syring, director of the Pentagon agency in charge of developing the missile defense system, called the test result “an incredible accomplishment” and a critical milestone for a program hampered by setbacks over the years.

“This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” Syring said in a written statement announcing the test result.

Despite the success, the $244 million test did not confirm that under wartime conditions the U.S. could intercept an intercontinental-range missile fired by North Korea. Pyongyang is understood to be moving closer to the capability of putting a nuclear warhead on such an ICBM and could develop decoys sophisticated enough to trick an interceptor into missing the real warhead.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. | KCNA/Handout

Syring’s agency sounded a note of caution.

“Initial indications are that the test met its primary objective, but program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test,” his statement said.

Philip E. Coyle, a former head of the Pentagon’s test and evaluation office and a senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said the May 30 outcome was a significant success for a test that was three years in preparation, but he noted that it was only the second success in the last five intercept attempts since 2010.

“In several ways, this test was a $244 million-dollar baby step, a baby step that took three years,” Coyle said.

The previous intercept test, in June 2014, was successful, but the longer track record is spotty. Since the system was declared ready for potential combat use in 2004, only four of nine intercept attempts have been successful.

“This is part of a continuous learning curve,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, ahead of the current test. The Pentagon is still incorporating engineering upgrades to its missile interceptor, which has yet to be fully tested in realistic conditions.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
North Korean anti-air missile on parade in Pyongyang.

North Korea says its nuclear and missile programs are a defense against perceived U.S. military threats. Its accelerating missile development has complicated Pentagon calculations, most recently by incorporating solid-fuel technology into its rockets. The step would mean even less launch warning time for the United States. Liquid fuel is less stable and rockets using it have to be fueled in the field, a process that takes longer and can be detected by satellites.

Underscoring its uninterrupted efforts, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on May 29, 2017 that landed in Japan’s maritime economic zone.

In the May 30 U.S. test, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency launched an interceptor rocket from an underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The target was an intercontinental-range missile fired from a test range on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.

According to the plan, a 5-foot-long “kill vehicle” released from atop the interceptor zeroed in on the ICBM-like target’s mock warhead outside Earth’s atmosphere and obliterated it by sheer force of impact, the Pentagon said. The “kill vehicle” carries no explosives, either in testing or in actual combat.

The target was a custom-made missile meant to simulate an ICBM, meaning it flew faster than missiles used in previous intercept tests, according to Christopher Johnson, the Missile Defense Agency’s spokesman. It was not a mock-up of an actual North Korean ICBM, and details of its exact capabilities weren’t made public.

Officially known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the Pentagon likens the defensive tactic to hitting a bullet with a bullet. With congressional support, the Pentagon is increasing the number of deployed interceptors, based in California and Alaska, to 44 from the current total of 36 by the end of 2017.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
A ground-based interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and its exo-atmospheric kill vehicle intercepted and destroyed the target in a direct collision. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert Volio)

While the May 30 test wasn’t designed with the expectation of an imminent North Korean missile threat, the military wants progress toward the stated goal of being able to shoot down a small number of ICBMs targeting the United States.

Laura Grego, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has criticized the missile defense program, called the interceptor an “advanced prototype,” meaning it is not fully matured technologically even if it has been deployed and theoretically available for combat since 2004. A successful test on May 30, she said, could demonstrate the Pentagon is on the right track with its latest technical fixes.

“Overall,” she wrote in an analysis prior to the test, the military “is not even close to demonstrating that the system works in a real-world setting.”

The interceptors are, in essence, the last line of U.S. defense against an attack by an intercontinental-range missile.

The Pentagon has other elements of missile defense that have shown to be more reliable, although they are designed to work against medium-range or shorter-range ballistic missiles. These include the Patriot missile, which numerous countries have purchased from the U.S., and the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which the U.S. deployed this year to South Korea to defend against medium-range missiles from North Korea.

MIGHTY CULTURE

From bodybuilder to beauty queen, this Army officer is crushing goals

As a young girl, Angie DiMattia knew softball would be her way out of an impoverished life.

Growing up, she lived with her parents and shared a room with her older sister inside a crammed 500-square-foot mobile home in Phenix City, Alabama.

“I remember stray animals coming into the house from the holes in the floor,” said Angie, now a first lieutenant. “It was rough.”

Her father worked hard delivering mail to make ends meet, she said. But, one day, her mother, who suffered complications from Type 1 diabetes, told her they’d never be able to afford to send her to college.

She saw softball as her golden ticket. It also fed her competitive side that later forged her into a chiseled bodybuilder and United States of America’s Ms. Colorado.


The strong work ethic that blossomed from her humble roots pushed her to keep practicing softball. Yet, she needed extra lessons to be a better pitcher, her favorite position. With no money to pay for them, she decided to work for her coach, who owned a batting cage.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

A young Angie DiMattia poses for a photograph before a dance recital.

She picked up balls and swept the batters’ boxes in between customers. And at the end of the day, the coach helped with her form.

“That’s how I figured out how to pitch was through his lessons,” she said. “But I earned it.”

She also earned each of her wins with a used glove she had bought for 25 cents at a flea market. She pitched well with it throughout high school and got a scholarship to a nearby community college.

“That glove, and obviously my work, earned a college scholarship,” she said.

Competitor 

Angie shelved her lucky glove, but still used her industrious attitude in other competitions.

Now 34, Angie has raced in several marathons, Iron Man triathlons and often advises other soldiers on how to achieve their fitness goals.

Her motivation to care deeply for her own body partly stems from witnessing her mother suffer with hers.

“I just watched what life was like when your body fails you,” she said.

With her mother’s dietary restrictions, sugar was banned in the house and Angie learned how to eat healthy at a young age. She also saw sports and fitness as an outlet that taught her leadership, teamwork and camaraderie — skills that continue to resonate in her Army career.

“My life has definitely been geared toward taking care of my body, which takes care of my mind that takes care of everything else in my life,” she said.

Her efforts recently bore fruit.

Earlier this year, she competed in the Arnold Sports Festival, a massive competition with about 22,000 athletes. Out of nearly 20 contestants in her category, she finished second place.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

First Lt. Angie DiMattia is seen volunteering for the Soldier Marathon in Columbus, Georgia.

The road to get there was not easy. On top of her routine physical training for the Army, she added two more hours of cardio in addition to a weightlifting session every single day for numerous weeks.

“I’d be so tired, I’d plop down,” she said of when each day ended.

While preparing for the competition, the endurance runner-bodybuilder also tried something out of the ordinary — a beauty pageant.

“I’m the complete opposite of a pageant girl,” she said, laughing.

While at a volunteering event, she met the state director of the USOA Miss Colorado pageant who convinced her to sign up. The prize that finally persuaded her — if she won, she could use her title to highlight issues she cares about on a wider platform.

“The pageant was never my goal,” she said. “To serve military families and Gold Star families, that was my goal.”

To her surprise, Angie became the first active-duty soldier to ever win the “Ms.” category for single women over 29 years old.

After being crowned, she has been able to collect more donations for Survivor Outreach Services at Fort Carson, Colorado, where she once served as a family readiness leader with 4th Infantry Division.

Volunteer

To her, volunteerism is her life purpose. She sees competitions as “selfish goals” because it saps a lot of her time from selfless endeavors.

“I don’t do a lot of community service because I’m really busy,” she said of when preparing for contests. “But it’s good sometimes to balance life. You have to grow individually before you’re able to help others.”

That passion was ignited a decade ago when she began to serve as a fallen hero coordinator for the Soldier Marathon in Columbus, Georgia. Proceeds from the race benefit the National Infantry Museum and other military-related nonprofit groups.

“It isn’t just me, it’s this team of people who all have the same mission,” she said. “We all love to run and we all love to serve our community and our military.”

Cecil Cheves, who is the race director, said that Angie has been an integral part of the annual event.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Then-2nd Lt. Angie DiMattia conducts a dumbbell workout Feb. 23, 2018, at Fort Carson, Colorado.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield)

She’ll research and produce a list of fallen soldiers from the local area and place their names on paper bibs that runners can run with in memory of them.

She also has a “vivacious personality” that she reveals as an announcer when runners cross the finish line.

“She gives off energy that draws others to her,” Cheves said.

But she is not self-focused, he noted, and is very interested in people.

“She’s the kind of person every organization, like the Army, would want,” he said. “She’s very much a team player.”

Angie also strives to use her current role as Ms. Colorado to raise awareness of fallen service members during other events, such as motorcycle rides that honor veterans.

Similar to the marathon, she hands out bibs with the names of deceased troops for riders to wear. If someone donates money for a bib, she gives it directly to Survivor Outreach Services.

“I’ve never taken a dime from it, not even to pay for my gas, not to pay for the printing materials, anything,” she said. “I pay it out of my own pocket.”

Army officer

In 2012, Angie first joined the Georgia National Guard as an enlisted truck driver so she could be assigned to a unit that was close to her ailing mother.

But soon after she completed training, her mother passed away.

“I was only here so I could be next to her,” she said.

She decided to enroll in the ROTC program at Columbus State University and earned a bachelor’s degree. She became an intelligence officer, then a strategic communicator and is now preparing to switch careers to be a space operations officer in Colorado.

As a child, she was obsessed with space. She painted her ceiling black and mapped out the night sky with stars and planets that glowed in the dark.

“It isn’t something you hear about very often,” she said of the Army’s space career field. “When I realized that this was an opportunity, I was so excited.”

Being able to rise above the “rough patches” she was dealt with as a child has also made her a better leader, she said.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

The strong work ethic that blossomed from her humble roots in Alabama has pushed 1st Lt. Angie DiMattia to accomplish many goals in life.

To her, she’s not embarrassed of the way she grew up. It actually shaped her desire to assist others facing their own challenges.

“I can influence beyond the chain of command with my community service and charity work,” she said. “But then I can relate to my junior soldiers through me being real. I know what it’s like to struggle a bit in life.”

When she gives advice to her soldiers, she says to seek mentorship from someone different from them and that way they can learn more.

She also likes to recite a quote on achieving goals that a Buddhist teacher once told her: “You just need to be yourself, but be all of you.”

But, perhaps, the greatest lesson she has learned is time management. If things in one’s life do not bring added value, she said, they need to be eliminated.

“My time is more important than my money,” she said. “You can invest money and get a return, but you cannot invest time and get time back.”

She suggests soldiers need to first define who they are and where they want to go before they try to conquer a goal in life.

“Let’s start mapping out these stepping stones,” she said, “that are going to be crucial to getting you to that next goal.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

Articles

Hero Marine working dog Cena laid to rest at the ‘Arlington of dogs’

A group of six German shepherds gave a final salute August 28 in honor of a fellow canine who served three tours of duty as a military working dog for the US Marine Corps and died on July 27 at age 10 after a weeks’ long battle with bone cancer.


The German shepherds, which are part of the K-9 Salute Team, were trained to kneel and howl on command in honor of Cena, a black lab who was euthanized in July and whose remains were interred August 28 at the Michigan War Dog Memorial in Lyon Township.

The memorial site, which hosted the public service and private interment, has about 10 military dogs buried beside 2,150 pets interred at the historic pet cemetery, according to memorial president and director Phil Weitlauf.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
DeYoung and Cena. Photo from American Humane via NewsEdge.

Cena, a bomb-sniffing dog, belonged to Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jeffrey DeYoung, 27, of Muskegon, who said he adopted the black lab in June 2014 after Cena underwent a year of rehabilitation therapy. DeYoung said that he and Cena served together on a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan that began in October 2009.

Cena also served with Jon North, a Marine sergeant from Osage, Iowa, who was present at the ceremony, and one other soldier who was not able to be there.

DeYoung said in a eulogy at the memorial service that Cena endured various injuries on his tours of duty, and that he and Cena encountered three improvised explosive devices together. Cena was officially an IED detection dog with the Marine Corps. The dogs walk ahead of patrols and pick up the scent of the explosives in the area and sit down near the explosive before a bomb-disarming unit comes, Weitlauf said.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
USMC photo by Cpl. Cody Haas.

“In every aspect of Cena, he has shed blood, pain, sweat, and tears for this country,” DeYoung said.

North, 28, who served one year with Cena in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011 didn’t speak at the service, but told the Free Press that Cena was known for being “a slow, old man” and that he was “just kind of a goofy old dog.”

“By the end of your time together, he’s more like a brother, more like a kid. It’s hard to let him go,” North said.

Together, DeYoung and North carried an urn containing Cena’s ashes in a funeral procession that included bagpipers and a military color guard.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
USMC Lance Cpl. Jon North and Cena in Marja, Afghanistan. Photo from DoD.

Weitlauf said that three separate Jeep convoys — including one from Muskegon with DeYoung escorting Cena’s remains — traversed different parts of the state to make it to the service, linking up at different locations including Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and New Hudson. He said that about 80 Jeeps participated in the convoys, and that about 600 people attended the funeral service — nearly double the 350 attendees the services normally get.

DeYoung, who is a professional public speaker, said that after adopting Cena in 2014, their job wasn’t yet over. They spent the next several years journeying across the country together to places such as President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and the US Congress, where DeYoung discussed the need to bring home all war dogs prior to retirement “so that what happened in Vietnam with the euthanasia will never happen again.”

At the end of that war, troops were ordered to leave their dogs in Vietnam out of fear of a logistical nightmare and concerns of disease being brought back, Weitlauf said. They had the option to give the dogs over to the South Vietnamese army or to euthanize them, he said. Over 4,000 were left behind, and only 204 made it back home, Weitlauf said.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith

Tom Strempka, 69, of Bloomfield Hills was deployed to Vietnam in 1971 at the age of 23, where he served a six-month tour of duty and suffered injuries. He said the funeral gave him closure.

Strempka said that war dogs in Vietnam once saved his platoon of 30 men from an ambush.

“I’m out here for every funeral because it’s long overdue for everyone to recognize the importance of dogs as being part of the unit and not a piece of equipment, the way the government treated them in Vietnam,” Strempka said. “And it’s a glorious day, and I guess that it gives me a little more peace of mind.”

For DeYoung, laying Cena to rest at what he described as the ” Arlington of dogs” also provided some closure.

“Cena’s journey in my life is done. Our work is not, so I will continue doing so in his honor,” DeYoung said to reporters before the ceremony.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US aircraft carrier, bombers and fighters flex their muscles near Iran

The US Navy carrier strike group and US Air Force bombers deployed to the Middle East to counter Iran conducted simulated strike drills near Iran as tensions between Washington and Tehran remain high.

The US began deploying numerous troops and military assets to the US Central Command area of responsibility May 2019 in response to intelligence indicating that Iran was plotting attacks on US interests in the region.

The exact nature of the threat posed by Iran and its proxies is unclear, although Vice Adm. Michael Gilday recently told reporters at the Pentagon that the Iranian leadership has repeatedly made threats backed up by changes in their force posture.

Furthermore, there have been a string of attacks in recent weeks — including attacks on tankers in UAE waters, a drone strike on a Saudi pipeline, and a rocket attack in the Green Zone in Iraq — that have reinforced the US military’s view that Iran is involved in or plotting nefarious activities.


A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

A bomber with fighter escorts fly above the USS Abraham Lincoln.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur)

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

B-52H Stratofortress bomber escorted by F/A-18E Super Hornets.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur)

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Bombers and fighters supported by an early warning aircraft fly above the USS Abraham Lincoln.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amber Smalley)

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

Fighters and bombers fly over the Arabian Sea during combined arms exercises.

(US Navy photo by Lt. Brad Kerr)

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

F/A-18E Super Hornet on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matt Herbst)

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Koreans shot one of their own soldiers as he tried to defect

North Korean soldiers shot at and wounded a fellow soldier who was crossing a jointly controlled area at the heavily guarded border to defect to South Korea on Oct.13, the South’s military said.


North Korean soldiers have occasionally defected to South Korea across the border. But it’s rare for a North Korean soldier to defect via the Joint Security Area, where border guards of the rival Koreas stand facing each other just meters (feet) away, and be shot by fellow North Korean soldiers.

The soldier bolted from a guard post at the northern side of Panmunjom village in the Joint Security Area to the southern side of the village, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. He was shot in the shoulder and elbow and was taken to a South Korean hospital, the South’s Defense Ministry said. It wasn’t immediately known how serious the soldier’s injuries were or why he decided to defect.

South Korean troops found the injured soldier south of the border after hearing sounds of gunfire, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said, requesting anonymity, citing department rules. South Korean troops didn’t fire at the North, he said.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
A North Korean soldier stands guard at a missile test site.

The defection came at a time of heightened tension over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and could escalate animosities between the rival countries. North Korea has typically accused South Korea of enticing its citizens to defect, something the South denies.

About 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, but most travel through China.

Panmunjom, once an obscure farming village inside the 4-kilometer-wide (2 1/2-mile-wide) Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas, is where an armistice was signed to pause the Korean War. Jointly controlled by the American-led U.N. Command and North Korea, the DMZ is guarded on both sides by hundreds of thousands of combat-ready troops, razor-wire fences and tank traps. More than a million mines are believed to be buried inside the zone.

American presidents often visit Panmunjom and other DMZ areas during their trips to South Korea to reaffirm their security commitment to the South. President Donald Trumpplanned to visit the DMZ to underscore his stance against North Korea’s nuclear program when he came to South Korea last week as part of an Asian tour, but his plans were thwarted by heavy fog that prevented his helicopter from landing at the border area.

Read More: North Koreans are defecting from the country in droves

At Panmunjom, North Korean soldiers wearing lapel pins with the images of late North Korean leaders often use binoculars to monitor visitors from the South. They stand only several meters (yards) away from tall South Korean soldiers wearing aviator sunglasses and standing motionless like statues. This makes the area a popular stop for visitors from both sides.

Areas around Panmunjom were the site of bloodshed and defection attempts by North Koreans in the past, but there have been no such incidents in recent years.

The most famous incident was in 1976, when two American army officers were killed by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers. The attack prompted Washington to fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate North Korea.

In 1984, North Korean and U.N. Command soldiers traded gunfire after a Soviet citizen defected by sprinting to the South Korean sector of the truce village. The incident left three North Korean soldiers and one South Korean soldier dead. In 1998, a North Korean solider fled to South Korea via Panmunjom.

Lists

9 reasons you should have joined the Air Force instead

You had choices when you showed up at the recruiting offices at your local strip mall. If you didn’t pick USAF you missed out, and here are 9 reasons why:


1. We call each other by our first names and don’t get hung up on rank. (It helps us prepare for not working as a grocery store bagger when we separate.)

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

2. Because Chuck Norris.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

3. The Air Force coined the term “counterspace operations” because it couldn’t be contained to just this planet.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

4. The Air Force has the best and the most expensive toys. This is why the Air Force budget is the largest. You’ve only seen the B-2 because we wanted you to see the B-2. The other ones are the //redacted//, the //redacted//, and best of all the //redacted//.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

5. The Air Force ages gracefully. (The SR-71 Blackbird is still the coolest thing ever made for the US military.)

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

6. Iron Man and the War Machine are stationed at Nellis Air Force Base.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
Photo: Wikimedia

7. The enlisted have the same or better operational survival rate than the officers.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

8. No service delivers more freedom in one serving.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’

9. We have more female general officers than any other branch.

A gymnast just defected from North Korea by ‘vaulting a 12 foot border wall’
That’s four more stars than you’ll ever have.

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