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Charles Jenkins, husband of ex-abductee Hitomi Soga, dies at 77

24 Comments
By Elaine Lies

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RIP

I know he was working at a souvenir shop part-time there in Sado Island and people were able to meet him. I really wanted to meet him someday but Sado Island is way far to get to.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

RIP. Certainly had an interesting life.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

He got 30 days for desertion and early release. That is really unimaginable. However, the Japanese government did not want a sad ending to this story, so the US cooperated. Is there any record of why he deserted?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

what does unknown causes mean?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

 Is there any record of why he deserted?

He somehow thought that socialism is a good form of government. He learned the hard way that he was in error. I am seriously considering going to Sado island next spring. I wouldn't have minded if I could have run into the guy so I could have asked him about whether he thinks America was such a bad country after all.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

@wolfpack, to paraphrase Churchill, 'if you're not a socialist when you're 20yo you've got no heart, if you're still a socialist when you're in your 40s you have no brain'.

The bloke was young, uneducated, these were the 60s, give him a break.

Agree with reckless, certainly had an 'interesting' life.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

He somehow thought that socialism is a good form of government

Depends on which country and what you define as socialism. Most on the US right call Sweden socialist.

A great place to live.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Is there any record of why he deserted?

He wrote in his book ("告白") that he thought he would be taken to Russia and then returned to the US.  he had a few beers one night and then walked towards where he knew the North Koreans would pick him up.  He never thought they would keep him.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Nothing good ever seems to follow the words: "drank 10 beers and..."

I read the book he wrote - it was fascinating, a very unique eyes-on view inside the DPRK. He made a mistake, one he almost instantly regretted, and he paid for it. A life interestingly lived.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

If he lived to 77, then maybe NK is not so bad, but I hear Sado food is great.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

If he lived to 77, then maybe NK is not so bad

Average lifespan for males is 67 in North Korea, 76.9 in the US, 80.5 in Japan.

Maybe the first 24 years and final 13 years helped him.

A young lad, uneducated, drafted into the military to fight someone else's war, too much stress, fear of battle and getting killed, too much booze, .....paid for by half a entry of regret. I feel sorry for him. And for all those who didn't desert and ended up dead and/or damaged in Vietnam.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

He somehow thought that socialism is a good form of government.

He shouldn't have defected to the DPRK, then. That's not a socialist country.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Drunk on socialism? I really doubt that he wrote his JHS graduation thesis on the joys of socialism, but that comment does show us about the problem of a piss poor ed-yuma-cation. Next time stick to verifying the real age of 15 year old recruits and screening out the immature if you don't want them to flake out as adults.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

My theory about why he only needed to do 30 days jail as punishment: A long, harsh sentence and people would start asking when the idiots who hired someone the age equivalent of a HS freshman would be disciplined.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Through lax recruit screening letting in immature teens, then expecting this country kid from North Carolina to be immune to endless overseas deployments (already entering his 10th year of service when he defected), this whole story reeks of institutional incompetence. Thinking Jenkins was a well adjusted soldier doing what he did for coherent political ideals is nutty. He's more like the 24 year old who just escaped NK for his own mental and physical health more than any desire to study the finer points of free market capitalism like TPP and NAFTA. Good thing Wolfpack won't have a chance to rudely confront his imaginary nemesis, though I wouldn't put it past him searching for relatives to harass.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

not Sure I feel so sorry for him.

He ended up alive and not dying in combat.,

he no doubt lived a lot better in North Korea than most residents.

He seems to have have been happy with his wife - even if they were forced to marry.

then his last years were spent with his family on a nice Island.

He could have died in combat, or gone back to North Carolina, never found Love, or just divorced and drinking 10 beers a day for until he died.

Not judging him either, having never been in combat.

Im sure his wife and children will miss him.

Probably died happier than most.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

He paid the price for his actions.

This reminds me of the supposed curse, “may you have an interesting life.” Mr. Jenkins definitely had an interesting one.

RIP

3 ( +4 / -1 )

He was a traitor. You don't join the army, get promoted to sergeant and then desert because you're afraid of serving. If you dont want to serve, you resign, you seek counseling, you request a transfer, but you don't run away, especially when you're leading a platoon on patrol with the enemy on the other side of the line. That's putting your own men in danger.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Not only that, you don't do keg stands before leading a platoon on patrol (psst alcohol is a mood-altering depressant).

6 ( +7 / -1 )

He was deserter. Not sure he was lucky or unlucky about it but dishonor for sure. If he went to Vietnam war, he would have been one of thousands of dead soldiers there. Anyway, he lived until 77 happily in Japan.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

JeffLee, you're absolutely right. He could have gotten what's called an Article 15 at the least, maybe a court martial for drinking on duty. He acted cowardly. I say that as a Vietnam combat veteran who lost many friends, saw too much. Considering what he did, he got off easily.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

He worked at the gift shop at the Gold Mine on Sado. I was there in '07 and I asked if I could meet him, but they said he had the day off. The lady seemed like she was tired of answering questions about him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm sure Jenkins regretting deserting, many times. Being stuck in North Korea must have seemed like an endless nightmare. I'm also wondering how the North Koreans felt about having a relatively uneducated English teacher with a strong North Carolina accent, or if they even noticed. The final years of his life must have been a relief for both him and his family, with Sado like heaven, compared with North Korea.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm sure Jenkins regretting deserting, many times. Being stuck in North Korea must have seemed like an endless nightmare.

He must have regretted it once the reality of living in a socialist society set in. The question I would have asked him if I could have is, Are you sorry for what you did? Not because of his ignorant belief in socialism which led to his own personal suffering, but for deserting his platoon and for his propagandizing on behalf of one of the worst regimes on the planet. I would ask if he felt any shame for turning his back on his country.

He shouldn't have defected to the DPRK, then. That's not a socialist country.

We know, when socialism fails it’s never because it’s a flawed ideology incompatible with human dignity. It’s always because they didn’t do it right.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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