He Defected to North Korea, Came to Bitterly Regret It


Former US Army soldier Charles Jenkins, who drank a few beers and slipped across the DMZ to defect to North Korea on a January night almost 43 years ago, has died in Japan. He was 77. Jenkins, who feared being killed on patrol or being sent to Vietnam, had planned to seek asylum at the Russian embassy and return to the US in a prisoner swap, but he came to bitterly regret the 1965 desertion, the BBC reports. 

North Korea held him and other Americans prisoner and he endured brutal mistreatment including the removal of a US Army tattoo without anesthetic. Jenkins, who grew up in North Carolina and left school at 15, taught English in North Korea and played American villains in propaganda movies. He married Hitomi Soga, a Japanese citizen kidnapped by North Korea, in 1980.

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