Skip to comments.Notes By U.S. Soldier at Heart of N. Korea Desertion Case [Jenkins in West After 40 Yrs in N. Korea]
Posted on 07/18/2004 10:53:13 AM PDT by AmericanInTokyo
Notes Left by (U.S.) Soldier at Heart of Korea Desertion Case
The U.S. says ex-Sgt. Charles Jenkins left incriminating notes when he disappeared into North Korea in 1965.
BY ROBERT BURNS
WASHINGTON - The Army's desertion case against Charles Jenkins seems to hinge on four notes he left behind that cold morning on Jan. 5, 1965, when he disappeared while on patrol in a wooded no man's land.
''I am going to North Korea,'' he wrote in one of the notes, this one to his mother.
The Army says Jenkins deserted inside the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea. Doubters have wondered whether the 24-year-old sergeant was kidnapped.
Some clues -- but no clear answers -- to this strange case rooted in the Cold War are found in dozens of pages of Army records on Jenkins.
The government in Tokyo is trying to reunite Jenkins, 64, with his Japanese wife, who is now free after being kidnapped by North Korea 26 years ago. Jenkins was en route to Japan this morning despite Washington's threats to seek his arrest.
On Saturday, the U.S. ambassador in Tokyo suggested the United States would not seek to detain Jenkins until after he got help for an abdominal ailment.
Among the Army documents on Jenkins is an intelligence message to the Army's top general saying Jenkins ''apparently defected.'' This message was shared with the CIA three days after Jenkins' disappearance.
It also says a search of Army counterintelligence records yielded no evidence that Jenkins might be a communist agent.
Portions of the released Army records on the Jenkins case are blacked out. The rest of the documents provide no indication of a motivation for deserting.
In 1996, Pentagon official In Sung Lee told Congress that a North Korean defector had said he met Jenkins in Pyongyang, the North's capital, and that Jenkins had told him he was ``ready to return to America.''
For years after that, Pentagon officials repeatedly asked North Korea for permission to talk to Jenkins and the three other known former U.S. soldiers there. The North Korean government has refused.
The Pentagon suspects there may be other Americans in North Korea -- possibly military personnel being held against their will, dating to the 1950-53 Korean War.
The Army quoted from the four notes it says Jenkins left in his barracks.
The one addressed to his mother is said to state: ''I am sorry for the trouble I will cause you. I know what I will have to do. I am going to North Korea. Tell family I love them very much.'' It is signed, ``Love, Charles.'' Family members say Jenkins went by his middle name, Robert, rather than by Charles.
Of the three other notes, one says he was leaving the lock on his wall locker for ''PDL'' because ''I don't need it anymore.'' Another says ''Sgt. Cain'' can have Jenkins' field jacket, and the fourth reveals the combination to the lock on his foot locker. ``It is hard to open; give to Sgt. Cain.''
(He is now, in principle, under US military control due to Japan's extradition treaty with the US. However, the US is looking the other way, for the time being, while Jenkins is being treated in a Tokyo hospital following slipshod North Korean medical operations on him. he will not apparantly be arrested right away.)
Here is the URL for one of many streaming internet videos on Japanese TV of his arrival at Haneda Airport and then at a Tokyo hospital (his two daughters also officially removed their "Kim Il Sung" lapel badges, that each person must wear in North Korean in public) (300k streaming video):
On the one hand, you have the curious comments of the Jenkins' relatives back in the States, who purport strange-sounding letters from Jenkins out of North Korea that point up suspicions--and it is true that "kidnapping" was and is a national industry of North Korea.
But on the other hand, as apparant to many old Japan Hands/Watchers, (including self), the wheel-chair, crutches and hobbling scene at the Japanese airport today seems to be one big staged act, typical in Japan when people are avoiding the law (they go straight to a hospital, where they are "safe.")
The US can't do much about it right now.
This guy has the look of a long life of shame and unhappiness. Maybe he needs to go on Rosie's cruise.
Hey, I thought the Potbellied Pinko's Worker's Paradise had the best health care! Why should he need to seek care elsewhere?
--The standard DPRK English speaking tour guide response when asked by visiting Westerners if there is anything they need or can get them and ship to them.....
What a rotten system they have up there, above the 38th parallel!
I Live in Rich Square,and My mother went to school there,about six classes ahead of jenkins
Nobody can decide if he was defected or was kidnapped
For being only 64 years old, he looks terrible. I would have thought he was 80.
<< But on the other hand, as apparant to many old Japan Hands/Watchers, (including self), the wheel-chair, crutches and hobbling scene at the Japanese airport today seems to be one big staged act .... >>
My observation, too.
Especially if his Tokyo arrival is compared with his bounding off the plane in Jakarta a few days ago.
Best ones -- Brian