Jenkins was born in Rich Square, North Carolina. He joined the National Guard in 1955, well below the minimum enlistment age. He joined the army in 1958 and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. He served in South Korea from 1960 to 1961, in Europe to 1964, and in South Korea again. In South Korea, Jenkins was assigned to night patrols. As a result of fears that he would be transferred to combat duty in Vietnam, he started drinking alcohol. While patrolling the Korean Demilitarized Zone in the early morning of January 5, 1965, he told his patrol that he was going to investigate a noise. He subsequently crossed into North Korea and surrendered to forces there. Shortly thereafter North Korean propaganda declared that a U.S. sergeant had defected and broadcasted alleged statements by the defector, reportedly in stilted English. The U.S. Army claimed Jenkins wrote four letters stating his intention to defect, the original copies of which were lost. His relatives maintained throughout his absence that he was abducted.
Jenkins drew international interest again in 2002, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-il confirmed that North Korea had abducted Japanese citizens. The surviving abductees were allowed to travel to Japan, but Jenkins stayed behind. On assurances of protection from the Japanese government, he travelled 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 to Camp Zama in Japan. He reported in respectful military form, saluting the receiving military police officer. On November 3 Jenkins pleaded 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, being released six days early, on November 27, 2004, for good behavior. Jenkins and his family settled on Sado Island in Japan, which is Soga’s home. Jenkins, his wife and two daughters traveled to the United States, arriving on June 14, 2005, to visit his 91 year old mother in North Carolina, USA, returning later in the month. He published a book in Japanese in October of 2005, titled To Tell The Truth (ISBN 4047915106), about his experiences in North Korea.
I bought Jenkins’ book a long while ago while still in Okinawa. It’s really interesting for anyone who is at all interested in North Korea. It’s currently available only in Japanese in an unfinished form; which would make us think that there will be an English version available sooner or later. There are some theories as to why it has not been published in English yet, but that’s not the topic for right now. Since the book is currently available only in Japanese, yet provides great insight into North Korea, and is just all around an interesting story, I’ve decided that I will share it with everyone. The book opens with a few pages of pictures from Jenkins’ life in North Korea and shortly after leaving. I’ll start by showing those, only after which will I share some quotes and/or complete stories that I find to be particularly interesting.
Mr Jenkins, now settled in his new home on Sado Island, Japan, true home of wife Hitomi.
1975, New Years. In North Korea presents are frequently sent from Kim Il-Sung on important holidays. In this first New Years present I received 3 bottles of wine, 10 packs of cigarets, a calendar, a few cans of meat, and a combination of cookies and candy. On the white card it says “Kim Il-Sung” and on the red card it says “record of presents” on which a list of all items inclosed is written.
Taken in 1992 on the set of “The Showdown” (対決) a North Korean movie about the 1968 Pueblo Incident [wikipedia] when North Korea captured an American spy vessel. I was forced to act as the Captain of the American Aircraft Carrier Enterprise. On the right is actor Don Cher [unsure about that name as it is in Katakana and I can’t find anything on Google]. He’s said to be Russian, but I hear he was raised in North Korea, and I’ve never heard him speak Russian. He was in a lot of movies, but I don’t know anything more then that. The movie takes place in the captains chambers on the Enterprise but in reality was filmed on the Samjiyon, an old ferry that used to go to Japan.
February 18th, 2000. A scene from my 60th birthday party in the study of our apartment. In North Korea, one’s 60th birthday is called 還甲 (還暦) – 환갑 and is a greatly celebrated. Behind Hitomi and myself from left to right: Advisor Choy Myung-Soo, One of the “Chiefs of Staff” (I don’t know his name, but he went along to Indonesia in 2004), my daughters Advisor Mr. Mun (son of Supreme People’s Assembly [wikipedia] member Park Seong-Cheor [wikipedia Korean – Japanese]).
Left: August 8th, 1980. Our marriage certificate. When Hitomi went home in 2002 and I was left in North Korea I was able to find out Hitmoi’s address on Sado Island and send her a letter with this marriage certificate. Below: August 8th, 1980. In front of The Grand People’s Study House [wikipedia Japanese – Korean] in Pyongyang. Hitomo had worn a tradition Korean dress on this day, but she burnt that photograph.
August 8th, 1980. The day of our wedding, in-front of the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital.
August 8th, 1980. The day of our wedding, in Pyongyang’s Moran Hill [wikipedia] Park.
August 8th, 1980. The day of our wedding, in-front of The Pyongyang Great/Grand Theater.
Upper Right: Autumn 1983. Hitomi and Mika in the front garden of our house. In the background you can see the small pump house and pipe used to drain the fields during the rainy season. Bottom Right: Autumn 1983. Me and Mika. The apartment under construction behind me later became our home. The dog is just a stray. Bottom: 1984. Hitomi was able to order only one Kimono at the Pyongyang Department Store. Behind her on the left is our apartment at the time, the apartment on the right (under construction) would later become our home.
Autumn 1980: Just married. Whenever taking a picture, we always struggled to find a spot where there wouldn’t be any barbed wire in the background. The dog is a pet of an Advisor.
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 Wikipedia contributors, “Charles Robert Jenkins,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Charles_Robert_Jenkins&oldid=48583477 (accessed June 18, 2006).