Chris Jeon: UCLA Student Tags Along with Libyan Rebels
Chris Jeon: War Tourism in Libya
21-year-old UCLA student Chris Jeon wanted to do something different for his summer vacation. Perhaps it was a mix of to little adventure and too much Hemingway that led Jeon to fly to Egypt, sneak into Libya and join up with the NTC.
Though Gaddafi's hold on the country is all but relinquished, the Libyan rebels are still fighting: deals made with various tribal groups have resulted in pockets of armed resistance. That means "bullets killing people". This is important because the rebels aren't actually letting Chris Jeon carry a gun. He's more like their mascot.
The photos of Jeong also don't show him wearing any sort of body armor. Problematic. Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were professional conflict journalists, and they both died in Libya.
At least Jeon is not wearing a Che Guevara shirt.
“This is one of the few real revolutions,” he said. “I just thought I’d come check it out.”
Chris Jeon's once-removed position from the Libyan civil war is a blessing in disguise for him: he most likely won't find himself in a position to decide whether or not to kill someone for a conflict in which he has no actual stake. At that point, "a sick vacation" would turn into potentially life-long nightmare fodder.
As he recalled that deliberately vague version of his itinerary, it dawned on Mr Jeon that he might be blowing his cover by speaking with a reporter on a far-flung stretch of desert more than 11,200 kms (7,000 miles) from home.
“Whatever you do, don’t tell my parents,” he pleaded. “They don’t know I’m here.”
We suspect his parents are about to find out.