James Joseph Dresnok (born 1941) is an American defector to North Korea, one of six American soldiers to defect after the Korean War.
Dresnok worked as an actor and an English teacher in Pyongyang. He was featured on the CBS magazine program 60 Minutes on January 28, 2007, as the last United States defector alive in North Korea, and was the subject of a documentary film entitled Crossing the Line.
He calls himself Joe Dresnok and is referred to as both James Dresnok and Joe Dresnok in news reports, sometimes as both in the same report.
Dresnok was born in Richmond, Virginia. His father was Joseph Dresnok I (1917–1978). His parents divorced when he was ten years old, and he was briefly raised by his father in Pennsylvania; his mother and younger brother Joseph Dresnok II never again came into contact with them. Dresnok was placed in a foster home, dropped out of high school, and joined the Army one day after his 17th birthday.
Dresnok's first military service was two years in West Germany. After returning to the United States to find that his wife there had left him for another man, he re-enlisted and was sent to South Korea. He was a Private First Class with a U.S. Army unit along