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Published: Tue, December 12, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Charles Jenkins, Cold War Defector To North Korea, Dies At 77

Charles Jenkins, Cold War Defector To North Korea, Dies At 77

For the first 15 years of his time in North Korea, Jenkins lived with other three US soldiers who defected to Pyongyang, as Jenkins recalled in his 2009 memoir The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea.

In an interview with Kyodo News in 2012, Jenkins, a North Carolina native, said he was happy living with his family on Sado Island, from where his wife hails, and appreciated the freedom Japan offers.

He collapsed outside his home, Japanese media reports said, and later died of heart problems in hospital.

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

For nearly 40 years, the North Carolina native lived as a prisoner in Pyongyang until he was liberated thanks to Hitomi Soga, a woman North Korea abducted from Japan who became his wife. I started to drink alcohol.

In order to gain access to the country he walked towards the border with a white t-shirt tied around his rifle. Jenkins said he did his best to make her feel safe, protected and respected and they eventually bonded over their loneliness and their mutual hatred of North Korea.

Jenkins later acted in propaganda movies and taught English to North Korean spies and military cadets. He married a Japanese woman named Hitomi Soga, who trained spies after being kidnapped by North Koreans.

Mr Jenkins said it was fear for his and his family's safety that made it impossible to refuse any demands made on him.

The issue sours already strained Japan-North Korea relations and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe often wears a blue ribbon to remind him of their abduction. "You say one thing bad about Kim Il-sung and then you dig your own hole, because you're gone", Jenkins said during his court-martial.

A USA soldier who deserted to North Korea more than half a century ago, has died in Japan aged 77.

After he was dishonourably discharged and served a 30-day sentence for desertion, Jenkins moved with his family to Sado, Soga's rural hometown, late in 2004.

He worked in a gift shop and even wrote a book describing his experience as a prisoner in the secretive state.

Charles Robert Jenkins' death was confirmed by an official from Sado, Japan, however no other details have emerged, according to Reuters.

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