Charles Robert Jenkins

Charles Robert Jenkins
Item# SADOGASHIMA008

Product Description

The people in Sadogashima Island embracing Jenkins, so he is promoting local flavors for tourists now.

Charles Robert Jenkins (born February 18, 1940) is a former United States Army soldier who lived in North Korea from 1965 to 2004 after deserting his unit and crossing the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

In 1980, Jenkins was introduced to Soga Hitomi, a 21-year-old Japanese nurse who had been abducted by North Korean agents in 1978, along with her mother, during a search for Japanese citizens who could train future spies in Japanese language and culture. Soga's mother was never heard from again, and Soga was "given to" Jenkins. Soga and Jenkins fell in love, and thirty-eight days after meeting, they were married. They had two daughters, Roberta Mika Jenkins (born 1983) and Brinda Carol Jenkins (born 1985). In 1982, Jenkins appeared in the North Korean film Unsung Heroes, which provided the first evidence to the Western world that he was alive. The U.S. government did not publicly reveal this information until 1996.

Jenkins drew international interest again in 2002, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-il confirmed that North Korea had abducted Japanese citizens. In an effort at détente, surviving abductees were allowed to travel to Japan, including Jenkins' wife. The visit was intended to last for a week, but the Japanese government chose not to return them on schedule and instead negotiated for their families to join them in Japan. Most of the families did ultimately travel to Japan, but Jenkins and his daughters stayed behind out of fear that the North Korean government was testing his loyalty. After assurances of protection from the Japanese government, he traveled with his daughters to Japan by way of Indonesia for medical treatment, arriving in Japan on July 18, 2004. Japan formally requested a pardon for Jenkins, which the U.S. declined to grant. After expressing a desire to put his conscience at rest, Jenkins reported on September 11, 2004 to Camp Zama in Japan. He reported in respectful military form, saluting the receiving military police officer. On November 3, Jenkins pled guilty to charges of desertion and aiding the enemy, but denied making disloyal or seditious statements—the latter charges were dropped. He was sentenced to 30 days' confinement and received a dishonorable discharge. He was released six days early, on November 27, 2004, for good behavior.

Jenkins and his family settled on Sadogashima Island in Japan, which is Soga's home. On July 15, 2008, Jenkins obtained permanent residency status in Japan, just half a month after he applied for the status. Jenkins commented that he wanted to stay in Japan for the rest of his life, and would also like to obtain Japanese nationality.

Jenkins published a book in Japanese in October 2005, titled To Tell the Truth (Japanese: 告白; Romaji: kokuhaku; ISBN 4-04-791510-6), about his experiences in North Korea. A Korean-language edition was also released in June 2006 by Mulpure Publishing of South Korea. (Korean: 고백, gobaek, ISBN 8981102341) An English language version, titled The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea, co-authored with journalist Jim Frederick (ISBN 978-0520253339), was released for publication by the University of California Press on March 1, 2008.