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Would You Burn Your Cash To Stay Warm And Alive? This Man Did

Yong Chun Kim, talking at his home about the experience of being lost in a blizzard for two days.
Ted S. Warren
Yong Chun Kim, talking at his home about the experience of being lost in a blizzard for two days.

We saw stories earlier this week about a man who was lost for two nights in Mount Rainier National Park over the weekend, but survived in part because he burned the money he was carrying to keep warm as a blizzard blew through the area.

But a critical question wasn't answered until today. — how much money went up in flames?

Now, thanks toThe Seattle Times, we know:


A $1 bill and a $5.

That was a little dissapointing. We'd been picturing a bigger blaze. Not a I've-found-D.B. Cooper's-lost-loot-and-now-I-have-to-burn-it story, but maybe a few hundred bucks or something.

Still, 66-year-old Yong Chun Kim's tale is pretty compelling. For instance, according to the Times Kim says he "worried he was breaking the law by burning money and feared he would get in trouble for setting a fire inside the national park." The $6 was all the money he had with him.

Ultimately, the newspaper says, Kim used his "trusty yellow lighter" to burn "anything else he could spare — an extra pair of socks, bandages, a nylon scarf and a toothbrush — before he was rescued Monday at an elevation of about 6,400 feet after spending two nights on the frigid mountain with only what he had packed for a day hike."

And he also rested for only short periods, because he figured moving would keep his body temperature up. Kim had gotten separated from the snowshoeing group he was leading when he slipped and slid about 150 feet. He told them to keep moving and and seek help. Kim had a little food in his pack. It took rescuers a while for rescuers to find him, obviously, but when they did he "was in such good shape that ... he did not have to go to a hospital and instead went home with his family," The Associated Press says.

As for the money, the AP reports that Kim says it burned the best of all the things he seat afire.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.