The Hawaiian Good Luck Sign


The crew of the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea in 1968 and used in propaganda films and photographs but found an interesting way to protest their forced involvement.

The film about the soccer team began with the North Korean team arriving in London and driving through the streets in a bus festooned with flags of the DPRK. As the bus drove down the street one proper English gentlemen complete with derby and umbrella spotted the bus and flipped it off. The man must have been a Korean War vet and he was giving the bus the finger. Whoever was taking the pictures zoomed in on it. A murmur went through the crew, the KORCOMs didn’t know what the finger meant.

This was further demonstrated in the second film in which a US Navy Officer flipped off the cameraman. They left it in. We now had a weapon! Back in our rooms we were elated, this was one more thing we could use to discredit the propaganda we were being forced to grind out. Several crew members expressed caution, but the general attitude was use it. We had been captured, but we never surrendered. Damn the Koreans, full fingers ahead!

The finger became an integral part of our anti-propaganda campaign. Any time a camera appeared, so did the fingers. A concern grew among us that sooner or later the Koreans would notice this and ask questions. It was decided that if the question was raised, the answer was to be that the finger was a gesture known as the Hawaiian Good Luck sign, a variation of the Hang Loose gesture. In late August one of the duty officers asked about the finger and seemed to be accepting of the explanation, but most of us realized that our zeal to ruin their propaganda would come back to haunt us.

Damn Interesting has a great article on the specifics of the incident.