Charles Robert Jenkins: American soldier who defected to North Korea more than 50 years ago dies aged 77

American soldier who deserted to North Korea more than 50 years ago dies aged 77

Charles Robert Jenkins was joined by his wife in Japan in 2004

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

An American soldier who deserted to North Korea more than 50 years ago has died at the age of 77.

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

In 1965 Jenkins, from North Carolina, disappeared at night whilst he was supposed to be on patrol in the area between North and South Korea. He eventually left the furtive Communist country in 2002.

During a court martial in 2004, Jenkins explained that he had deserted the army and gone to North Korea after drinking a lot of alcohol to avoid fighting in Vietnam and doing his duty in South Korea.

However Jenkins added that he had intended to turn himself into soldiers from Russia thinking that North Korea would not force him to stay in the country.

In order to gain access to the country he walked towards the border with a white t-shirt tied around his rifle.

During his time in North Korea he taught soldiers English but also acted as a US spy in a propaganda video. He married a Japanese woman named Hitomi Soga, who trained spies after being kidnapped by North Koreans.

He was able to move to Japan in 2002 but had to serve a one-month sentence for deserting the army. Two years later his wife and two children joined him in his new country.

In Japan Jenkins spent his time working in a gift shop and also wrote a book about the time he spent in North Korea.

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