U.S. soldier who defected to North Korea dies

Share

Jenkins didn't defect to North Korea and become a communist convert, Frederick said.

Charles Robert Jenkins was one of six American soldiers to defect to North Korea, and the only one to leave, and then tell his story.

Mr Jenkins disappeared in January 1965 while patrolling along the Demilitarised Zone dividing North and South Korea. At his court martial trial in 2004 in Japan, he said that he anxious he would be killed along the border or be sent to Vietnam.

"I know I was not thinking clearly at the time and a lot of my decisions don't make sense now, but at the time they had a logic to them that made my actions seem nearly inevitable", Jenkins wrote in 2008. Jenkins would later say that his desertion came while he was under the influence of alcohol and the North Korean regime refused to send him to the Soviet Union where he planned to turn himself into the American embassy, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

North Korean agents were never able to break him, said Jenkins, who was given citizenship in the isolated communist dictatorship in 1972. North Korea eventually acknowledged its program of kidnapping Japanese citizens.

Former U.S. Army deserter to North Korea Charles Jenkins left escorted by his wife Hitomi Soga right and their daughter Mika center in 2004
Former U.S. Army deserter to North Korea Charles Jenkins left escorted by his wife Hitomi Soga right and their daughter Mika center in 2004

While in North Korea he appeared in propaganda films, taught North Korean spies English and spent up to 8 hours a day studying the writings of North Korean leaders. Once when it was noticed he had a US Army tattoo, he was taken to the doctor to have it cut off without anesthesia. ". As soon as I got one foot out of North Korea, I was through".

After heading to Japan, Jenkins was court-martialled by the United States military for deserting but given only a 30-day confinement.

He married a Japanese woman named Hitomi Soga, who trained spies after being kidnapped by North Koreans.

Jenkins, originally from North Carolina, had been living in Japan with his family after his release in 2004.

Hitomi Soga embraces her husband, U.S. Army defector Charles Robert Jenkins, as the two are reunited at the airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2004, after Jenkins' release. He subsequently worked in a gift shop and wrote a book about his experiences in North Korea. He pleaded guilty to desertion and aiding the enemy and was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to 25 days in a USA military jail in Japan.

More news: Ryanair's Dublin pilots to strike pre-Christmas

Share