On Dec. 18 during eight hours of meeting with the North Koreans for eight hours, Richardson emphasized the importance of dealing with the helicopter incident in a timely manner. But the North Koreans insisted that the Korean People’s Army was investigating the incident and no external pressure would affect the timing of its report.
On Dec. 19, Richardson learned that Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Hall was fine, but that Chief Warrant Officer David Hilemon perished during the downing of the helicopter. The North Koreans remained intransigent and Secretary of State Christopher suggested that Richardson come home, but Richardson wanted more time.
On Dec. 21, the North Koreans tell Richardson that if he leaves Pyongyang the next morning he can escort Hilemon’s remains across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) into South Korea. They said Hall would be released “very soon.” After consulting with the Statement Department and the U.S. military, Richardson accepted the deal. The following day, he and his group are driven to the DMZ for the transfer of Hilemon’s remains.
The North Korans finally release Hall to U.S. officials at the DMZ on Dec. 30.Congressman Richardson crosses the DMZ between North and South Korea after the body of pilot David Hilemon had been brought across.