Tags: charles jenkins | dead | us soldier | defect | north korea

Charles Jenkins, Defected to North Korea as US Sergeant in 1960s, Dies in Japan at 77

Image: Charles Jenkins, Defected to North Korea as US Sergeant in 1960s, Dies in Japan at 77

Charles Jenkins as U.S. soldier (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP Images) and later in life. (Kyodo via AP Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 12 December 2017 06:43 AM

Charles Jenkins, who defected to North Korea as a U.S. soldier in the 1960s, has died in Japan where he settled in 2004. He was 77.

Jenkins left his post in South Korea at height of the Cold War and entered North Korea in 1965. 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.

He married Hitomi Soga, a Japanese woman who was taken prisoner by North Korea after being accused of spying, and had two children, The Guardian said. Soga was released in 2002 and Jenkins two years later. They settled on the Japanese island of Sado, per National Public Radio.

The Guardian said some consider Jenkins a traitor, who occasionally appeared in North Korean propaganda films and taught English during his time in the reclusive communist country.

In his 2008 memoir, "The Reluctant Communist: My desertion, court-martial and 40-year imprisonment in North Korea," the Rich Square, North Carolina native called his departure a mistake, wrote NPR.

"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 almost inevitable," Jenkins wrote in 2008.

Jenkins said the he was in a virtual prison during the first eight years in North Korea, living in a small room with other three other U.S. defectors and forced to learn the works of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung, NPR said.

The broadcaster stated that James Joseph Dresnok, another American who had deserted into North Korea three years before Jenkins, died in August after "pledging loyalty to the 'great leader Kim Jong-Un.'"

Jenkins said even though he was forced to marry Soga in 1980, they later fell in love, NPR noted.

The broadcaster wrote that Jenkins served 25 days in a U.S. military brig after his release from North Korea and 2004 and debriefed about his knowledge of the regime and its sensitive installations for two months.

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Charles Jenkins, a U.S. soldier who defected to North Korea in the 1960s, has died in Japan where he settled in 2004. He was 77.
charles jenkins, dead, us soldier, defect, north korea
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Tuesday, 12 December 2017 06:43 AM
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