The cargo ship Judy Litrico, loaded with corn, is sailing for North Korea on a humanitarian mission, but crew members aren’t necessarily looking forward to the trip.
“We, the Americans, are the enemy,” said Chief Mate Mitzi Crane, who was in North Korea last year.
That time, she recalled, one crew member had a rifle thrust in his face when he tried to walk off the ship and onto the North Korean dock.
“The Korean officers kept asking me why I wasn’t married or had children,” she said. “They didn’t believe I was an officer because I am a woman.”
But Crane also knows the country needs help. On the last trip, many of the trucks used to transport the ship’s cargo from the docks had cranks to start them. And at night, the only lights were those on the ship.
“Food is only one of the things that country is lacking,” she said.
The 640-foot Judy Litrico was scheduled to sail today with 25,000 metric tons of corn - part of a $60.4 million U.S. aid package to help stem starvation in North Korea, where flooding cut food production the past two years.
Last year, the crew stayed in North Korea for 14 days, because it took that long with North Korea’s equipment to load the corn in bags and move it off the ship.
“In spite of it all, it’s a good thing to do,” said ship’s captain Mike Farrell. “The important thing is that people are getting fed.”