The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea

The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea

The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea

The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea

Synopsis

In January of 1965, twenty-four-year-old U.S. Army sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins abandoned his post in South Korea, walked across the DMZ, and surrendered to communist North Korean soldiers standing sentry along the world's most heavily militarized border. He believed his action would get him back to the States and a short jail sentence. Instead he found himself in another sort of prison, where for forty years he suffered under one of the most brutal and repressive regimes the world has known. This fast-paced, harrowing tale, told plainly and simply by Jenkins (with journalist Jim Frederick), takes the reader behind the North Korean curtain and reveals the inner workings of its isolated society while offering a powerful testament to the human spirit.

Excerpt

My first thought, I remember clearly, was: “This can’t be happening.” Once I registered that it was indeed happening, my second thought was simple: “I’m toast.” It was the morning of September 2, 2004, and, as I did every morning, I was checking the major news sites that covered Japan for any new developments (this being Japan, overnight news was usually an earthquake) or features our competitors had posted since yesterday. I clicked over to the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) website, and there it was: “Exclusive Interview: Four Decades in North Korea. On a cold night in 1965, Sgt. Charles Robert Jenkins disappeared from a patrol in South Korea. Forty years later he has resurfaced. In his first interview since leaving North Korea, he tells the Review his story.”

I read it again. And again, making sure it said what I thought it said. It did. This headline was followed by what must have been a three-thousand-word story that included, indeed, live, recent quotes from Jenkins. There was even a photograph of him . . .

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