Charles Jenkins: US soldier who defected to North Korea dies
January 22 2018, 12:28 | Irvin Gilbert
US soldier who defected to North Korea dies
As a young sergeant in 1965 on patrol along the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, the North Carolinian drank 10 beers and slipped across the border into the Communist hermit state.
For nearly 40 years, the North Carolina native lived as a prisoner in Pyongyang until he was liberated thanks to Hitomi Soga, a woman North Korea abducted from Japan who became his wife. Two years after her release, Pyongyang allowed Jenkins to walk free along with their daughters. I never had drunk so much alcohol'.
Jenkins, who is originally from Rich Square, N.C., pleaded guilty to desertion and aiding the enemy and was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to 25 days in a USA military jail in Japan.
Charles Jenkins hoped that once in North Korea, he could seek asylum with the Soviet Embassy, and eventually return to the United States in a prisoner swap. "I can not think now and would like to comment when I regain my calm".
North Korean agents kidnapped Soga and a number of other ordinary Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s in order to train its spies in the Japanese language and culture.
After being sentenced to 30 days for desertion, Jenkins was released and joined his family on Sado island, Soga's hometown.
"I had never seen anybody so lovely", Jenkins recalled in his memoir, "She was wearing a white blouse, a white skirt, and white high-heel shoes".
Mr Jenkins said he had planned to go to Russian Federation and turn himself in, and had not expected North Korea to keep him. His wife was allowed to visit Japan in 2002 and stayed.
In 2002, North Korea admitted kidnapping 13 Japanese civilians but the government in Tokyo believes at least 17 were taken. The four men were forced to memorise ideological books by Kim Il-sung, the founder of the North Korean nation, and they were beaten by their guards when they made errors.
He pleaded guilty to desertion and aiding the enemy and was dishonourably discharged and sentenced to 25 days in a USA military jail in Japan. "North Korea wants me dead", he told the L.A. Times. But he said he had no plans to move back to the U.S.