Skip to comments.US 'deserter' to leave N Korea
Posted on 07/03/2004 10:39:22 PM PDT by RWR8189
Mr Jenkins has an extraordinary story to tell
A United States soldier who has spent the last four decades in North Korea could soon be leaving the country.
Charles Robert Jenkins is expected to travel to Indonesia to be reunited with his Japanese wife, possibly this month.
The US considers Mr Jenkins a deserter who must face military justice, though his family has always denied this.
Indonesia has no extradition treaty with the US, making it a convenient meeting place for the 62-year-old American and his family.
Mr Jenkins went missing in 1965 while leading a patrol near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). He told his platoon he was going to investigate a noise.
The US Army says he deserted, but relatives in the US believe he was kidnapped.
Snatched in the '70s and '80s
Used as cultural trainers for N Korean spies
Five allowed home in 2002
Five children now freed from N Korea
Eight said to be dead, others missing
The BBC's Andrew Harding says that Mr Jenkins, if willing to talk, could have some unique insights into North Korea, often described as the world's most isolated nation.
The last time Mr Jenkins saw the outside world, Lyndon Johnson was America's president and man had not yet landed on the moon.
The soldier's case is also being keenly followed in Japan, because of a row over Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea to help train the country's spies.
Mr Jenkins married one of the abducted Japanese women, Hitomi Soga, and Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has made the abduction issue central to normalising diplomatic relations with the North.
Hitomi Soga has found the separation difficult
Hitomi Soga was allowed to go back to Japan in October 2002, following a high-profile visit to Pyongyang by Mr Koizumi.
But Mr Jenkins stayed behind with their two teenage daughters, afraid that if he went to Japan too, he would face extradition to the US to be tried for deserting.
Mr Koizumi travelled to Pyongyang again in May and met Mr Jenkins, who said again that he did not want to leave North Korea.
The North Korean authorities, who usually severely restrict travel to and from the country, have indicated that Mr Jenkins is free to leave if he chooses.
The couple's enforced separation has been given wide and sympathetic coverage by the Japanese media.
Our correspondent says dozens of Japanese news organisations have now descended on Indonesia in anticipation of an extraordinary family reunion.
I'd love for us to snatch this guy while he's out of North Korea. I'd be very interested to hear what he has to say.
Can we shoot him?
Send a couple servicemen from the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia.
Meet him at the airport.
Bias in the media? Nah...they're just being fair. And fairness dictates that subversives and traitors be described in heroic terms.
His life in North Korea must have been a hard one. He is 62 and looks 82! Guilt weighs heavily upon his brow.
BTW, if he were indeed kidnapped, he'd be making a beeline home to a hero's welcome as a returning POW and bring his wife with him. However, IMO, his fear confirms he did indeed go AWOL.
Take him under armed guard, let him see the houses/goodies/life that his fellow soldiers he abondened now enjoy...and leave him on a street corner.
The opposite of love isn't hate- it's complete indifference. We don't hate you- we just don't really give a shiite about you.
FWIW ... I totally agree.
It's interesting how things change.
I had a lieutenant on the job who was a Marine in Korea in '52. A man in his squad was found sleeping on watch. He was courts martialed.
The tribunal had mercy on him, and sentenced him to twenty years in Leavenworth. He could have been shot.
I suppose, should a soldier do that today, he would be a "hero" in the eyes of our enemy ... the Democrat Party.
Happy Independence Day!
I watched a documentary about this. Kidnappings did happen to the Japanese. They were taken against this will. Felt sorry for the victims.
I've read through all of the stories on this guy...from his family and high school friends...to members of his unit. Not a single one ever said that they thought he was capable of desertion. This has left me with the thought that he simply was caught and dragged off across the border. We know the Korean regularly did this with Japananese citizens. And we all know the story of the two GI's who were hacked to death while their work party was clearing the DMZ area. I've always suspected that he (a naive enlisted guy) simply underwent brain washing and eventually came to believe anything they told him.
After all these years, its not even worth our time to go after him or try him. Even if you did...all he has to say is that he was brain-washed...and the whole courtcase goes down the drain. The guy and his wife have nothing...no pension, no cash fund, no social security, etc. The Japanese government is likely providing some kinda retirement assistance for his wife...who was kidnapped. My guess is that the couple will sit there for six months...and eventually fly into Japan very quietly and live out their lives there.
Maybe he got tired of eating dirt in the peoples' paradise.
We must have read different accounts. From what I've read, the guy left his unit on his own after making preparations to leave (giving his things away and writing a vague letter to his parents). I don't give any credence to the fact that nobody around him knew about his capability for desertion. There was no reported NK activity in his area. The brainwashing would have been only after the fact either way and really doesn't make a difference in the actual desertion itself. The only 'braing-washing' he could have been under before deserting would have been the NK propaganda about it being a socialist paradise. There should be further investigation at least, although the military has already done so and think he is a deserter.
Not a single one ever said that they thought he was capable of desertion.Not "capable" of desertion? That made me chuckle, because it sounded like neighbors saying they just can't believe the "nice boy" down the street butchered his family.
In all fairness, I am not condemning him for running away. Society tends to forget how brutal that war was. Some people have a lower breaking point than others, and the conditions there could have been enough to make a weak person snap. I think that's what happened to this guy.
But I'm with you on just forgetting about it. As old as he looks, he must not be in good health and won't live long anyway. It's not worth the time or expense to pursue this case.
A number of folks have looked at the "last" letter to his parents...and it doesn't relate or sound like previous letters which were in the parent's possession. Over the years, its been thought that the Army wrote the letter after he disappeared. I hate going that far in suggesting that some comander in South Korea might have been protecting his butt in writing such a letter...but stranger things have happened.