SEOUL, South Korea —
They enlisted Chayon Kim, a South Korean-born U.S. citizen who had been involved in the campaign to build a Korean War Memorial in Washington, and who took the Harlem Globetrotters and former NBA star Dennis Rodman to North Korea earlier this year.
She agreed to take Hudner, fellow Korean War veteran Dick Bonelli, and their group to North Korea. Kim, who says she has built ties over the years with the North Korean military, asked the army to supply soldiers to help with the search.
Hudner hopes to bring Brown’s remains home to the aviator’s 86-year-old widow, Daisy, and their daughter, Pam Knight, who was a toddler when her father died.
“I think it would add some peace and maybe some closure,” Brown’s widow said Thursday. “But if they do find the remains, and they can convince me that it is his remains, we would want a full military funeral at Arlington Cemetery.
“He deserves that,” she said, speaking to AP at her home in Hattiesburg, where a picture of Brown’s plane sits on the mantle over the fireplace. “That would give him a final resting place.”
Hudner, who turns 89 next month and is in frail health, is bracing himself for what he knows will be difficult journey. There are few paved roads outside Pyongyang, and the route to the region where Brown died is a steep mountain path, treacherous even in good weather.
“I won’t be at the bar boozing it up for very long when I get there,” he joked.
The political complications may be greater still. The Koreas remain divided by the world’s most militarized border, and Washington and Pyongyang lack diplomatic relations.
Diplomatic forays have sputtered over the years, stalled by a standoff over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Earlier this year, Pyongyang threatened to launch a nuclear war if provoked; Washington sent bombers into the region in what defense officials acknowledged was meant as a warning.