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Snowshoer Burned Money

January 19, 2012 by staff 

Snowshoer Burned Money, A snowshoer who was lost in a blizzard for two days on Washington state’s Mount Rainier said he stayed alive by digging out a snow tunnel and burning the dollar bills for warmth.

Yong Chun Kim, 66, of Tacoma, said he carried a lighter and other emergency supplies and burned personal items: extra socks, Band-Aid, toothbrush, packaging, and lastly $1 and $5 bills from his wallet.

Kim, who served in the South Korean military in the Vietnam War, told KOMO-TV in Seattle that skills he learned as a soldier helped him survive. He said he wasn’t scared. He kept waiting for the sounds of the helicopter – though severe weather conditions prevented park officials from using one to search for Kim.

“I’m a lucky man, a really lucky man,” he said in an interview Tuesday afternoon from his home.

With temperatures in the teens and winds whipping on the mountain, Kim said he kept walking and moving to stay warm. He took cover in several tree wells – depressions in snow that forms around a tree – and slept standing for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.

He initially made a shelter near a big rock and tried to stay warm. He tried to keep walking, but at times “the snow was so deep, I couldn’t breathe.”

Kim dreamed of his wife and a nice hot sauna. He talked to himself. He took pictures. He prayed to God. He worried his family and friends would worry about him. He made a fire, drank hot water and ate rice, some Korean food and a chocolate bar.

And even as he burned his personal items to say warm, the last $6 going up in flames Sunday night, he said: “I worried because it’s a national park. You’re not supposed to have a fire. … I’m worried about that but I want to (stay) alive.”

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