Across the border
The 24-year-old sergeant of the US Army in 1965 served in the demilitarized zone on the South Korean side. Army everyday he, to put it mildly, did not like. Jenkins did not want to endanger his life, did not like going to the patrol, he was afraid that he would be sent to fight in Vietnam. All these fears and experiences led the sergeant to the idea of desertion. He probably had a very vague idea about the DPRK, having once ventured on such a desperate step as crossing the North Korean border.
An opportunity came soon. Jenkins, leading a group of soldiers, went to patrol the area allocated to them. Soon he told the rest of the servicemen that he wanted to inspect one of the roads on his own, and he was. The sergeant, braved by several cans of beer, tied a white T-shirt as a flag and crossed the border.
Charles Jenkins before desertion
As Jenkins later acknowledged, he very quickly regretted his unreasonable act. “Returning to that decision, I can say that I was a fool. If there is a god in heaven, then he led me through all this, ”Charles said in an interview. All at once went wrong, as suggested by the American. The soldier thought that he would be able to seek asylum at the Soviet embassy, he would be sent to the USSR, and then he would return to the United States during the exchange of prisoners of war. However, the Koreans on Jenkins had other plans.
Jenkins said that he and three other US servicemen, who by the will of fate found themselves in the DPRK, were placed in a tiny house in which there was not even a water supply system. There they lived for seven years, and they studied the great theses of Kim Il Sung against their will. The guards forced them to cram whole passages from this doctrine in Korean, and then mercilessly beat negligent students who were unable to assimilate this material. In a miraculous way, the Soviet embassy Jenkins was still able to be contacted, but his request for help was rejected.
In addition, prisoners of war were subjected to medical experimentation and even torture. For example, Jenkins had a tattoo that signals that he is an American sergeant. Her North Korean doctors removed even without anesthesia.
Jenkins after release
In 1972, the authorities replaced anger with mercy and allocated separate housing to Jenkins. Now he had to work for the benefit of the newly acquired fatherland: Charles taught the English language to the military and even taught at the university, translated texts, and also forced him to play the role of an American spy in a propaganda film.
In 1980, Jenkins met a girl from Japan, who was kidnapped and brought to Pyongyang, so she taught Koreans their native language. Called captive Hitomi Soga. DPRK agents also kidnapped her mother, but the Japanese women were immediately separated. They never met again. Hitomi was decided to immediately marry. Jenkins was chosen as her husband. Of course, the desire or unwillingness of the spouses did not interest anyone.
Nevertheless, Charles and Hitomi, united by a common grief, soon became gently attached to each other. Together, all the troubles to worry was much easier. Jenkins admitted that they had a tradition: every evening they exchanged the phrases of "good night" in each other's languages. They did this in order to remember who they were and where they came from, not to lose themselves and their national identity in a foreign country, among people who are hostile.
Charles, Hitomi and their daughters
Happiness did not bypass Charles and Hitomi, even in the difficult conditions in which they found themselves. In the North Korean captivity they had two daughters - Mick and Brind.
In this case, the situation of the family could even be considered enviable. Foreign prisoners were treated much better than, for example, ordinary prisoners. Strictly speaking, they lived in almost the same way as the citizens of the DPRK, and in the conditions of the hungry 1990s even better than many of them - when everyone was left without food, Jenkins and his relatives continued to feed relatively well.
In 2002, the Japanese government managed to ensure that Hitomi was allowed to return home. Two years later, a woman was followed by her husband and daughters. After forty years of captivity, Jenkins finally found himself free. However, the tribunal was waiting for him outside of North Korea. True, the American who suffered a misfortune and pity for deserting a thousand times was sentenced to a symbolic 30 days in prison.
Jenkins during trial
In Japan, Jenkins learned how to use a computer, although in the DPRK, he never even saw anything of the kind, described his difficult fate in his memoirs, and got a job at an amusement park. December 11, 2017, he passed away.