North Korea U.S. Defector to Make Indonesia Trip By Richard S. Ehrlich JAKARTA American sergeant North Korea 1965 time warp dodge court martial deserting the Army defecting communist Charles Robert Jenkins daughters Japanese wife Hitomi Soga 2002 extradition treaty with the United States Tokyo Reuters news agency military law U.S. jurisdiction kidnapped North Carolina South Korea radio brainwashed propaganda films taught English 1978 nursing student 1980 Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies Washington Japan National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi President Bush deserter war in Vietnam Canada Mexico 1955 1st Cavalry Division 8th Cavalry Regiment 1960 1961 Europe 1964 richard s. ehrlich richard ehrlich richard erlich richard s. erlich
Published in Washington, D.C.
July 8, 2004
North Korea U.S. defector to make Indonesia trip
By Richard S. Ehrlich
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
An American sergeant who slipped into North Korea in 1965 may soon emerge from his time-warp existence, if he can dodge a U.S. court-martial for purportedly deserting the Army and defecting to the communist regime.
Charles Robert Jenkins, who remained in North Korea with his two daughters when his Japanese-born wife, Hitomi Soga, was returned to her homeland in 2002, will be reunited with her in Indonesia tomorrow.
Indonesia was chosen for the rendezvous because the country does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday, Mrs. Soga, 45, said she was looking forward to the reunion, but wondered whether they could ever live together again.
"The day that the four of us can hug each other is approaching. It's right in front of us. I am happy and relieved," Reuters news agency quoted Mrs. Soga as saying. "I am worried about what comes after seeing them."
The United States has said Mr. Jenkins will face military law if he comes into U.S. jurisdiction.
Mrs. Soga and four other kidnapped Japanese citizens had spent a quarter century in the communist state before returning to Japan in October 2002.
Mr. Jenkins, from North Carolina, was a 25-year-old army sergeant stationed in South Korea when he disappeared into North Korea Jan. 5, 1965. Three weeks later, North Korean radio announced he had voluntarily defected.
Mr. Jenkins' relatives and supporters, however, say he may have been kidnapped by the North Koreans, held against his will and brainwashed to believe that if he returned he would be shot by Americans. He also appeared in North Korean propaganda films and radio shows.
Unless Mr. Jenkins, 64, is able to confirm why he entered North Korea, the truth may never be known.
All that's known about his stay in North Korea is that he taught English in the capital, Pyongyang. One of his students was Miss Soga, who had been kidnapped from Japan in 1978 when she was a 19-year-old nursing student.
They married in 1980.
Their two daughters — Mika, 21, and Belinda, 19 — are enrolled at Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies.
In May, Tokyo asked Washington to pardon Mr. Jenkins so he could join his wife, but U.S. officials refused, according to the Japan Times.
Yesterday, visiting National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice discussed his case with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Mr. Jenkins' relatives in the United States have petitioned President Bush to pardon him.
"If in fact he is a deserter and defector, I believe he has paid enough for his crimes," said his niece, Susan C. Cutting, in a letter to Mr. Bush.
Denying that Mr. Jenkins is a deserter, his family said he had never expressed dissatisfaction with his life in the Army.
"If, as was stated, my uncle defected in order to avoid the war in Vietnam, why would he choose to go to North Korea, when he easily could have gone to Canada or Mexico when he was home only weeks before this incident?" Miss Cutting said.
The relatives have also created a Web site devoted to clearing Mr. Jenkins' name. They are asking for information from anyone who might know why he entered North Korea or his current condition.
Mr. Jenkins enlisted in the Army in 1955, was in the 1st Cavalry Division, 8th Cavalry Regiment, and did his first tour of duty in South Korea from 1960 to 1961, the relatives said. He then served three years in Europe before returning to Korea in November 1964.