Puzzle of the Day

Who deserts to North Korea? What's wrong with this picture?

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I found another article on

I found another article on this, although without a link:

Thursday, July 8, 2004 - Page A1

BEIJING -- On a chilly winter night in 1965, at the peak of the Cold War, a young American soldier slipped across a military frontier and disappeared into the shadows of North Korea, a bizarre and secretive land of brainwashing and totalitarianism.

A few weeks later, 24-year-old Charles Robert Jenkins reappeared on a North Korean propaganda broadcast. He said he had found his Shangri-La.

Was he a defector or a kidnapping victim? A traitor to his homeland, or an innocent dupe of psychological pressure tactics? The question is still fiercely debated, but until now the world has rarely glimpsed the jug-eared soldier from small-town North Carolina who had vanished into the world's most isolated state.

Tomorrow, at the age of 64, the exiled GI is finally coming in from the cold. He will be flown to Indonesia for a reunion with his Japanese wife, herself a victim of a kidnapping by North Korean agents in the 1970s.

Foreign intrigue still swirls around Mr. Jenkins.

The Pentagon is determined to arrest him and prosecute him as an army deserter. Pyongyang continues to exploit him as a propaganda tool. Tokyo views him as a symbol of successful diplomacy, a useful figure for political benefit on the eve of parliamentary elections this weekend.

But perhaps the most fascinating question will be Mr. Jenkins's reaction to the modern world. For almost four decades, he has seen nothing of it. Subsisting in a grim Orwellian society of shortages and paranoia, he has been cut off from all foreign influences, a stranger to capitalism and globalism.

When he arrives with his two North Korean-born daughters in Jakarta tomorrow, after a Japanese-chartered flight from Pyongyang, he will find himself in a sprawling metropolis of brightly lit skyscrapers and ultramodern office towers, a city of giant neon advertisements and massive traffic jams, its gleaming high-rises interspersed with slums and crumbling shacks.

It will be a profound shock to a man who has spent almost all his entire adult life in a stagnant, state-controlled country where food and electricity are strictly rationed, Western influences are forbidden, the city streets are empty and dark, and official propaganda is the only permissible form of mass communication.

Mr. Jenkins grew up in the North Carolina town of Rich Square, population 1,000, about 135 kilometres northeast of Raleigh. One of seven children in an impoverished family, he was often mocked for his stutter and his failures at school, where he dropped out of the eighth grade. He used a B.B. gun to play soldier with his friends, pretending to fight the communists.

At the age of 15, he lied about his age and joined the National Guard. Soon he had enlisted in the U.S. Army and was serving in South Korea with the 8th Cavalry.

On the night of Jan. 6, 1965, the young sergeant was leading a four-man patrol in a forested area on the southern boundary of the Demilitarized Zone that marks the ceasefire line between the two Koreas. Around 2:30 in the morning, he told his squad that he heard a suspicious noise. Heading off to investigate, he disappeared and never returned.

Three weeks later, he began to surface in propaganda broadcasts on North Korean radio and loudspeakers at the border, where he urged his fellow American soldiers to join him in the Shangri-La of the new socialist state.

In the 1980s, Mr. Jenkins appeared in a famed North Korean propaganda film, Nameless Heroes, a televised spy drama in which he played the villainous role of a sinister-looking U.S. intelligence agent called Mr. Kelton.

His existence remained almost unknown to the outside world until 2002, when Pyongyang made the shocking admission that it had kidnapped at least a dozen Japanese citizens. One of the victims was Hitomi Soga, who had married Mr. Jenkins in 1980. Two years earlier, the teenaged Ms. Soga had been abducted by North Korean spies on a small island off the northern coast of Japan's main island. She met the American soldier when she was a student in an English class he taught in Pyongyang.

In 2002, after a diplomatic d?tente between Japan and North Korea, the Japanese woman was allowed to return to her homeland. But her husband refused to join her, fearing that the United States would extradite him and prosecute him for desertion.

After another summit between the Japanese and North Korean leaders this year, the two countries agreed that Mr. Jenkins and his wife would be allowed to reunite temporarily in Indonesia -- a country carefully chosen because it does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

It is not clear how long the couple and their daughters, now 18 and 20, will be able to spend together, but the visit may stretch for weeks or months.

Supporters of Mr. Jenkins believe he was abducted in 1965 by North Korean soldiers. But the Pentagon, reportedly at the personal insistence of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has refused to give a pardon to Mr. Jenkins, despite repeated requests from the Japanese government. It has cited a series of disputed letters that allegedly prove that he had planned to defect to North Korea.
I can't imagine why Rummy would interject himself. Perhaps there is more to this than we are being told?

Robert F. Williams (

Robert F. Williams ( http://rwor.org/a/firstvol/882/willms.htm ) defected to Cuba and then to *China* in the 1960's.

From that page:
"Robert Williams made his mark on history after he returned to Monroe in 1955, after being discharged from the Marines. He became the president of the Union County branch of the NAACP and went out to recruit members among laborers, farmers, domestic workers, and the unemployed. In his book, Negroes With Guns, Williams recalls, "We ended up with a chapter that was unique in the whole NAACP because of working class composition and a leadership that was not middle class. Most important, we had a strong representation of returned veterans who were very militant and didn't scare easy. We started a struggle in Monroe and Union County to integrate public facilities and we had the support of a Unitarian group of white people." Monroe was the southeastern regional headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan. But this didn't stop Williams from organizing struggle against segregation."

Lee Harvey Oswald defected

Lee Harvey Oswald defected to Russia, and he also had a foreign wife. This guy looks a tad old to come 'home' and be a sniper though. :)