Yesterday, as North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, it’s hard to forget that the country literally trains its citizens to hate Americans. There is, perhaps, one inexplicable exception to their enmity: the 25-year-old Texan, Jimmy Dushku.
The Hermit Nation launched it’s own official Twitter account, @uriminzok (which means “our nation”), in 2010, and it currently has over 13,000 followers. What is unusual is that it follows only three Twitterers: Vietnam, a Pyongyang-based propaganda account, and, for some reason, Dushku. Mother Jones first picked up the story a month ago.
Dushku is something of a remarkable figure. The independently wealthy Austin-based investor started a website development business at the age of 14 and now invests his money in an assortment of ventures: residential property in Texas; construction projects in Europe; and mining and agriculture in Brazil and Peru. Dushku describes himself in his Twitter as: “Just a young guy trying to make the world a better place :)”. As Asawin Suebsaeng at Mother Jones wrote, Dushku is known, at least online, as a superfan of the band Coldplay, a man who quotes the movie The Fast and the Furious during meetings, and for playing golf with buddy Dennis Quaid.
All that makes Dushku an interesting figure apparently, but even he doesn’t know why he’s the only human person that the Communist nation follows on the Internet. Perhaps it was a simple mistake. “I used to think maybe they don’t even know how to use Twitter the appropriate way,” he told CBS News.
After noticing that he was being “followed,” Dushku took the opportunity to make a connection with a nation that is clouded in mystery. “I have been very interested in the country, from a historical point of view, for many years now,” he said. Dushku sent a couple of tweets to the account, one of which read, “Have a nice day, my friend,” in Korean.
Things got ugly after that. Dushku’s account became flooded with heated messages, including accusations of being a spy for the Korean Worker’s Party and graphic death threats. Most of the threats came from South Koreans and Korean Americans, according to Suebsaeng.
Dushku has avoided the spotlight after becoming concerned for his safety. He rarely gives interviews to Western media outlets. “Jimmy Dushku” isn’t even his real name, according to the New York Daily News. A representative for Dushku said that he has been using that name online for several years, but would not reveal his real name. That is perhaps wise considering all the vitriol aimed at him online.
He does, however, retain an interest in the enigmatic nation, and claims to having a standing offer from North Korean officials to visit the country. Although Americans can now visit North Korea, the State Department warns it is difficult to obtain the necessary documentation, Dominique Mosbergen wrote for the Huffington Post.
Regardless of all the attention he has received over this curious connection, Dushku sees value in learning more about a population that remains unseen to most of the world. “Behind all of the headlines you see on the news,” he said, “there are people who live there.”