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04-06-08, 06:37 AM #1
US defector freed by North Korea is now a celebrity in Japan
Charles Robert Jenkins was planning a trip to the United States this spring to do "Larry King Live" and promote his book, but the tourist season on Sado Island is heating up.
So Jenkins decided to stay home, sell cookies and sign autographs. At 68, the former U.S. Army sergeant who defected to North Korea and lived as a captive in the curtained-off communist state for 40 years is a celebrity in Japan.
His Stalinist odyssey -- marriage to a Japanese woman who was abducted by North Korea and given to him one evening, her highly publicized release and their eventual reunion -- is household knowledge in this country. An impish man with big ears and a thick North Carolina drawl, he has done as many as 28 interviews in one day with the Japanese media. His autobiography, being published in the United States this spring as "The Reluctant Communist," has sold more than 300,000 copies in hardback in Japan.
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"Everyone in Japan knows who I am," he said. "Even young girls come up and want to kiss me. I swear. And take the picture while doing it."
At age 24, while serving in South Korea, Jenkins drank 10 beers and stumbled northward across the world's most heavily militarized border. He surrendered his M-14 rifle to startled soldiers in North Korea.
"I was so ignorant," he recalled. He had deserted the Army for what became a self-imposed life sentence in a "giant, demented prison."
There, over the next four decades, he acted in propaganda movies and raised chickens. He taught English and made the Korean food staple kimchi. He memorized the teachings of President Kim Il Sung and killed rats that crawled out of his toilet.
After 15 years, his keepers delivered a lovely Japanese woman to his house and urged him to rape her. She had been kidnapped from Japan. Jenkins was gentle with her, she came to love him and they were married. They had two daughters who were in training to become multilingual Stalinist spies -- when something happened that was truly nutty.
North Korea let them go. His wife got out in 2002, he and his daughters in 2004.
An issue of raw emotion
Trading on his celebrity, Jenkins now works as a glad-hander in the gift shop of a museum here on Sado Island.
Located off the west coast of Japan, Sado is a green, isolated isle of rice paddies and tall mountains. Historically, it is Japan's Elba. An emperor, a great Buddhist monk and the inventor of Noh theater were exiled here.
Sado is now a minor tourist destination -- and Jenkins has become one of its major attractions.
Wearing a "happi" coat -- a bright yellow shopkeeper's vest with Japanese characters on it -- he sells sugar cookies seven hours a day, six days a week, shaking hands and posing for pictures with tourists.
His wife, Hitomi Soga, who is 20 years younger than Jenkins, grew up here on Sado and now works at city hall.
It was on this island on Aug. 12, 1978, when Soga was 18 years old, that three North Korean agents grabbed her at dusk, stuffed her in a black body bag and stole her away on a ship.
Fifteen years later, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il admitted that his agents had abducted 13 Japanese, including Soga.
But there are eight other abductees who the Japanese government says were taken in the 1970s and 1980s and are still unaccounted for. It wants them back.
North Korea infuriated the Japanese by sending home the bones of abductees who supposedly had died -- bones that DNA testing found did not match any of the missing Japanese.
It is almost impossible to overstate the emotional power and political sensitivity of the abductee issue in Japan. The government bans all imports from North Korea, refuses to give it food aid and forbids its ships to enter Japanese harbors. More than any other country, Japan has been talking tough in six-nation negotiations meant to coax North Korea into abandoning nuclear weapons.
The national obsession with abduction has made Soga, like Jenkins, famous. But she does not talk to the press and neither do the four other Japanese abductees who were released six years ago.
Soga is not pleased that her American husband does talk, and talk and talk. Jenkins said that over the past four years, she has warned him not to write an autobiography, not to grant interviews and not to put his signature on the cookie boxes he sells.
She is now warning him, he said, not to write a second volume of his life's story.
"She said that in the end North Korea is going to get fed up. I am going to walk out my garage one morning to walk the dog, and I am going to get a bullet in the head. Very possible."
By Blaine Harden
04-06-08, 10:25 AM #2
If he sets foot on the soil of the USA he should be arrested.If you can't do it from a boat. Do you really want to do it?
04-06-08, 07:28 PM #3That which does not kill me, better start fucking running.
If I lived every day like it was my last, the body count would be staggering.
I intend to go in harm's way. -John Paul Jones
Hunt the wolf, and bring light to the dark places that others fear to go. LT COL Dave Grossman
I'd be a better people person if I was around better people.
04-06-08, 08:34 PM #4
Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat
"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway
The opinions given in my signatures & threads DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "Five-0" on Officerresource.com
04-06-08, 08:51 PM #5
He may be a "hero" there, but he is still a deserter (sp?) here."An Unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper
Some people are meant to be the police......Some people are meant to call the police!!!
"Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don't need it and hell where they already have it."
" I believe that forgiving them (Terrorist) is God's function. OUR job is to arrange the meeting."
General Norman Schwartzkopf
Not all Muslims are Terrorists, but all Terrorists are Muslim.
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04-06-08, 10:00 PM #6
Once a deserter, always a deserter.
Choose The Right. When you're doing whats right, then you have nothing to worry about.
Not a LEO
In memory of Sgt. Howard K. Stevenson 1965 - 2005. Ceres Police Dept.
In memory of Robert N. Panos 1955 - 2008 Ceres Police Dept.
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