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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Sunnyland native to appear in movie with George Jung

  • Terry King was touched after he watched the 2001 movie “Blow” starring Johnny Depp.

    This prompted him to write prison inmate and drug smuggler George Jung, on whose life the movie “Blow” was based.
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  • Terry King was touched after he watched the 2001 movie “Blow” starring Johnny Depp.
    This prompted him to write prison inmate and drug smuggler George Jung, on whose life the movie “Blow” was based.
    King sat in his Chillicothe living room and talked about his friendship with Jung. With his long black hair pulled back in a ponytail, his Harley Davidson shirt, jeans, turquoise bracelets and tattoos, he looks like the kind of person Depp might like to hang out with. 
    Jung and King became friends through their correspondence over 21 years. Jung, 71, was released from Fort Dix Federal Prison in New Jersey June 2.
    King, who grew up in Sunnyland, said he has never done an illegal drug in his life, yet he felt compassion for Jung.
    “Everybody in his life did him wrong. If you’ve ever seen the movie, his mother turned him in, his wife got him busted where he went up for all those years,” King said. “He was good to everybody.”
    In his first letter to Jung, King said he “broke the ice” with some empathy.
    “It’s easy to say, ‘I would never do that,’ but when you’re taking in several million dollars a day, every day of your life, and in one incident, 33 kilos of cocaine gone in a little over 24 hours. I mean, you know, $30 million dollars? That’s a lot of temptation,” King said.
    On Monday, King received a phone call about Jung’s release. A couple of days later, Jung called King from a halfway house in California and said “I’m free!” 
    King said Jung was a bit depressed at being hounded by the media since his release.
    “It (publicity) will 
    be good for the movie and the book, but he thinks they are making a hero out of the wrong kind of person,” King said.
    Jung has called King several times since his release. Jung told him he can’t wait to go to Boston to see a Red Sox game and have a beer. King said he will fly to meet Jung in mid June in California to discuss a role for a new movie called “Heavy,” which King said will star Depp. Jung will be in the movie as well, and King will have a cameo role in the film. The movie will be a work of fiction based on actual events as told in a book by the same title by Jung and T. Rafael Cimino. King also said that Jung has another book coming out soon called “Smuggler.” Jung sent King one of the chapters of the book to read.
    Page 2 of 3 - King, a disabled Vietnam veteran, said he is very excited about meeting Jung and filming in Florida. He said due to his disability (he cannot stand for long periods of time) he has not been out of the state in 12 years.
    “I lost 55 pounds for this,” he said. 
    In the movie, King said he is going to play a biker who buys some drugs from some drug dealers.
    In a letter to King, Jung says, “I’m busy writing for the film project ‘Heavy.’ I promised you and your wife a cameo role. Stay on the crest and the wave. P.S. We will put your motorcycle in the film. You did Nam and I’m proud of you my warrior.”
    King said his wife will not appear in the film due to other obligations. King is also not sure about shipping his own motorcycle for the film. He said he feels more comfortable with it parked at home.
    After filming the movie, King said he will build Jung a  custom Harley Davidson. In one message to King, Jung said he will call the bike Badlander.
    “I love the bike Badlander from hell. This project is a go once I’m in San Francisco,” Jung says in a letter to King dated May 14, 2014.
    Through their letter writing, the men found they both have a passion for cars and motorcycles. King said he has been around motorcycles since he was a teenager.
    Jung, according to his website, was born in Boston and has the nickname “Boston George.” He was a major player in the cocaine trade in the United States in the 1970s and early ’80s as part of the Medellin Cartel. In the movie “Blow,” Jung’s character says that they smuggled 85 percent of the cocaine into the United States. 
    “He went to Colombia to meet Pablo Escobar because he wanted to deal cocaine instead of marijuana because it was really hitting Hollywood at that time. ... It was spreading from the west coast to the east coast.” King said. “He walked on Pablo Escobar’s land, and of course, he was surrounded by machine guns.”
    Escobar, a Columbian drug lord, had heard of Jung and hired him to smuggle drugs. A Columbian special operations unit shot and killed Escobar in 1993.
    Page 3 of 3 - King said that Jung sent him something he wrote called “If” about how drug smuggling was wrong. In it, Jung says that teachers are heroes, not drug smugglers. 
    “I mortgaged my whole life for a few vivid moments of freedom,” Jung says. 
    “Drugs are evil. They destroy lives,” he continues, adding “Trust me, the thirty seconds of fame wasn’t worth the price of admission.”
    Still, King sees irony in Jung’s circumstances.
    “He went to prison for being a drug smuggler and he was a millionaire, and now he’s getting out, and because he was a drug smuggler, he’s going to be a millionaire again. His book’s being released today or tomorrow, he’s got a second book deal and he’s got the movie deal,” King said.
    King said he understands how this could make some people angry because it seems to glorify drug smuggling.
    In addition to the books and movie, King said Jung is also starting a company called Badlander Productions, which will focus on video games and movies.
    On a blog on Jung’s website, there is a post by Johnny “Be Good” Depp dated April 2011 that says: “To the Federal Government, George Jung is nothing more than a whopper stack of papers shoved into a filing cabinet collecting dust, another notch on their belt.
    “To Otisville Federal Correctional Institute, he is merely Inmate #19225-004.
    “To his daughter Kristina, he is the father that she was never given the possibility of knowing or loving.
    “To me, he is not a number, he’s not a convict, and he’s not a criminal. He’s a great man whose wisdom and knowledge, unfortunately, was greatly overshadowed by the choices and mistakes he made all those years ago when he hadn’t even had time to brush himself off from the conditioning wrought upon him by his parents.”
    When asked why he wrote to Jung all these years, King said he knows what it feels like to be lonely.
    “When I was in the military, letters meant everything to me. I’d be out in the field 45 days at a time, 30 days at a time, then in. Letters from home was everything,” he said.

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