Chris Jeon, UCLA Student, Alive And Well After His Summer Of Revolution
It was a crazy summer for UCLA math major Chris Jeon. He learned how to shoot an AK-47, embedded himself in a brutal battle against a vicious (and stubborn!) dictator, and he even earned the nickname "Braveheart" for leaving a life of comfort to rough it with Libyan rebels.
Now he's back at school in Los Angeles and getting ready to graduate in May. Jeon sat down for an interview with CBS, revealing some things that might surprise you about his summer of revolution in Libya.
"They're in love with Justin Bieber," says Jeon. "When they said that, I was like, 'god, are you serious?' Because these are like macho dudes with guns and tanks."
As for why he made the trek, Jeon tells CBS, "I'm all about different experiences, and I wondered, 'What is it really like living with people who are struggling everyday for their freedom?' "
For Jeon, being back on the UCLA campus feels "surreal" and "like a dream," whose heart is still in Libya.
The National first broke the news of Jeon's sojourn with Libyan rebels on September 1st, marveling at how "the rebels have clearly taken to the mathematics student with no obvious political leanings." The National also noted that even repeating the name that the rebels had gifted Jeon, "Ahmed El Maghrabi Saidi Barga," would result in an eruption of "raucous cheers."
But his status as beloved mascot didn't last for long after that article was published. Jeon was reportedly sent away by the Libyan rebels just one day after he was discovered, notes Gawker. Al Jazeera's Evan Hill reveals the reason for his departure in a tweet: "Our team in east #Libya said rebels fed up with Chris Jeon, US kid who tried to join, told him 2 go, last seen on pick-up going 2 Benghazi."
On September 6, Bradley Hope, The National reporter who first discovered him in Libya, gave this twitter update: "Parents of #ChrisJeon told me he is safe and heading back soon. He was unaware that there had been any news about him for the last week."