DMZ Captives Are POWs

Legal Status of US Troops Captured by North Korea

Declassified Pentagon documents on the 1994 North Korean shoot down and detention of US helicopter pilot Bobby Hall discuss his legal status as a North Korean captive (see our report on the shoot down here.) Based on an “exhaustive analysis of the legal status of the Korean armistice” by the State Department years earlier, and a Department of Defense study from a year earlier involving American military flights over Iraq, the December 1994 report (seen below) concludes Hall was a prisoner of war “entitled to all GPW (Geneva Convention prisoner of war) protections, including visits by the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross).” The report also mentions its findings contradict an earlier study regarding the crewmen of the USS Pueblo, who were imprisoned by North Korea in the 1960s. This Pentagon legal determination is significant given the potential of future US military prisoners in North Korea, as well as the issue of American troops captured but never returned by North Korea and its allies immediately after the 1953 armistice. For more about these men, visit

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