What We Know About the UCLA Math Major Fighting in Libya

Chris Jeon thought a vacation fighting with the rebels would be 'sick'

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The Internet's newest fascination is a guy named Chis Jeon, a 21-year-old math major at UCLA, who decided a fun way to finish out his summer vacation would be to fly to Libya and fight with the rebels there. Now we want to know everything about him stateside, so we've done a bit of web stalking to learn more. Perhaps Jeon, who will be a senior this year, is getting a jump on the kind of post-college diversionary position Jennifer 8. Lee wrote about in The New York Times on Thursday.

Kristen Chick, the Christian Science Monitor's Egypt correspondent, was one of the first Western journalists to find Jeon, whom she photographed holding an assault rifle and wearing a blue Los Angeles basketball jersey. He told her, "At spring break I told my friends a 'sick' vacation would be to come here and fight with the rebels." Jeon's story is priceless not just because it's a really weird thing to do -- he flew to Cairo on a one-way ticket, then snuck into Libya and linked up with the rebels, mostly communicating through sign language -- but because Jeon is so darned goofy. His reason for the one-way ticket, as told to The National's Bradley Hope: "If I get captured or something, I don’t want to waste another US$800." And Hope's description of him trying to use a gun is priceless: " 'How do you fire this thing?' he asked on Wednesday as a bearded rebel handed him an AK-47. Locating the trigger of the assault rifle and switching off the safety, Mr Jeon fired it in the air in two short bursts."

Jeon's Facebook profile shows a photo of him at what the LA Weekly identified as the Coachella music festival. He's also a Facebook fan of The Big 4 festival, which has Metallica, Slayer, Megadeath, and Anthrax playing at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 14. So we can safely assume he's a rock fan and a festival goer. But the only artist he likes on Facebook is Michael Jackson, so go figure. His profile also shows he's a fan of Zhenya Tabakov, a Russian 7-year-old killed while trying to protect his sister from a rapist, and University of Fondwa, in Haiti, so it seems he has at least some global, social conscience. We're guessing he can handle himself in a fight, as he's a fan of Dynamix Martial Arts, a mixed martial arts studio, and LA Boxing. Also, he's a member of Texts From Last Night - UCLA, but unfortunately hasn't posted anything.

According to his Facebook, Jeon is from Cypress, a suburb in Orange County just east of Long Beach. His Campus Buddy profile says he graduated in 2008 from Capistrano Valley High School, also in Orange County but further south, close to the San Diego County line. According to Chick's story, he spent his spring break in Quebec. His Facebook profile says he speaks Spanish and Korean, as well as English, and he communicates with his fellow rebel fighters in "sign language, and broken Italian," Chick reported. We don't know much about his family, but we know his parents won't be pleased to read about him. "'Whatever you do, don’t tell my parents,' he told Hope. 'They don’t know I’m here.'"

Update (Aug. 2): It seems the rebels have tired of Jeon and put him on a truck headed back to Benghazi

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.