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American Who Refused Repatriation in ‘53 Disillusioned with Communism

Aug. 2, 1963 - An American who refused repatriation after his release as a prisoner of war in Korea 10 years ago said today he was disillusioned by the “lack of individual freedom” in Communist China. He is Lowell D. Skinner (pictured), 32-year-old former U.S. Army corporal from Akron, Ohio, who crossed the border from Communist China into Hong Kong yesterday. Mr. Skinner told a news conference he went to China after the Korean War holding a number of “preconceptions” about the country that proved to be incorrect. He thought living conditions there would be higher than in the U.S., that he would be free to travel, and that he might have a chance to further his education. Instead, he spent nine years working as a lathe operator at a paper factory in Tsin-an with no opportunity to travel or go to school. He said he developed an ulcer condition due to “bad food, working too much, and nervous exhaustion.” At the height of the “Great Leap Forward,” the disastrous Chinese economic campaign that started in September 1958, Mr. Skinner said his working hours were increased steadily until one day he worked 21 hours. He married a Chinese girl in 1956, but he said she was unable to travel with him due to a partial paralysis of the legs that resulted from a tubercular infection in the brain. Mr. Skinner still retains his U.S. citizenship and can re-enter the U.S., the State Department said today. His parents, who live in a two-bedroom trailer home in Portage Lakes, Ohio, expressed the hope today that he would return and settle down. “I hope he comes home as soon as he can, settles down, and finds a job,” said his mother, Mrs. Brady D. Skinner.


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