Bummed out by the end of summer vacation? Want to take the awesomest road trip evar? Not really bothered by the idea of conflict tourism or turning someone else’s struggle for freedom into your bar-stool anecdote?
Dude: you need to join the Libyan revolution!
Bradley Hope, a reporter covering Libya’s uprising, writes in Abu Dhabi newspaper The National that he recently made a curious discovery near An Nawfaliyah: Chris Jeon, a 21-year old University of California–Los Angeles math student. That’s Jeon in the picture above, very unsafely resting his rifle on the ground with the barrel pointed up while his new buddies crowd around. Spoiler: He doesn’t have any military experience.
Why’d he make the long trek from L.A. to L-iby-A? “It is the end of my summer vacation, so I thought it would be cool to join the rebels,” Jeon told Hope. “This is one of the only real revolutions.”
Hope describes Jeon as someone “who took a wrong turn on their way to the beach or the Santa Monica Pier,” dressed in his L.A. jersey in a battlefield, asking dudes if they can teach him how to shoot an AK-47. Or trying to — he doesn’t speak Arabic. “I want to fight in Sirte!” he declares, referring to one of the final strongholds of Moammar Gadhafi loyalists.
The Libyans Jeon’s joined don’t appear too troubled by the American in their midst. They’ve dubbed him “Ahmed El Maghrabi Saidi Barga.” He doesn’t know what it means, but whenever he says it out loud, they cheer him.
Jeon surely doesn’t mean any harm. And it’s not as if the Libyans he’s with are super-professional soldiers. But they’re fighting for their freedom and their lives. Jeon is taking a cavalier detour through their war, bringing along his video camera to pick up some “great footage.” Hopefully he won’t get himself or anyone hurt while he finishes up his war-zone road trip.
Photo: Bradley Hope/The National