Tag Archives: Korea

They Did This To An American…. And A Japanese

“U.S. Army Deserter Describes 40 Years in North Korea Hell,” Drudge Report, 20 October 2005.

The North Korean monsters.

In his first U.S. television interview, the former U.S. Army sergeant who deserted to North Korea speaks for the first time about the abuse and control inflicted on him by the communist dictatorship over his nearly 40 years there. Charles Robert Jenkins tells Scott Pelley he had a “U.S. Army” tattoo sliced off without anesthetic and was even told how often to have sex by his communist “leaders” in a 60 MINUTES interview to be broadcast Sunday, Oct. 23 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

In 1965, Jenkins was posted along the hostile border between North and South Korea. He says he was being asked to lead increasingly aggressive patrols and was wary that he might be sent to Vietnam. And so, on a sub-zero night, he says he drank 10 beers, abandoned his squad, and walked through a mine-field to surrender to the North. He says he thought he would be sent to Russia and exchanged in some Cold War swap. But he was wrong. “It was the worst mistake anyone ever made,” he tells Pelley. “In words I cannot express the feelings I have towards North Korea, the harassment I got. The hard life.”

That life included forced studying of the writings of the communist dictator Kim Il Sung. He says he and three other American deserters were forced to study eight hours a day for seven years. The studying was imposed by communist government handlers called “leaders.” They also assigned him a Korean woman, with whom he was supposed to have sex twice a month. “The leaders almost tell her when to do it, and I got in a big fight one time over it,” recalls Jenkins. “I told [the leader], ‘It’s none of his business if I want sleep with her. She wants to sleep — we sleep.’ ‘No — two times a month'” He says he was severely punished for talking back. “That’s the worst beating I ever got — over that,” he tells Pelley, showing a scar where he says his teeth came through his lower lip.

Worse still, says Jenkins, was the pain he endured when someone saw his U.S. Army tattoo. He says the North Koreans held him down and cut the words, “U.S. Army,” off with a scalpel and scissors — without giving him any painkiller. “They told me the anesthetic was for the battlefield,” says Jenkins, “It was hell.”

charles_jenkins_md
Charles Jenkins

During his first 15 years in North Korea, Jenkins says he led a lonely and desperate life. Then his North Korean “leaders” brought a young Japanese woman to his door. She had been kidnapped from her homeland by North Korean agents. The only thing they had in common at first was that they hated North Korea, Jenkins says, but the relationship blossomed. They raised two children. Kim Jong Il’s decision in 2002 to allow Jenkins’ wife and other surviving abductees to return to Japan paved the way for Jenkins’ release last year.

Each night before going to bed in North Korea, Jenkins said good night to his wife in Japanese, rather than Korean. He did it, he tells Pelley, to “remind her that she’s still Japanese, that she’s not Korean. She’s not obligated to Korea. She is Japanese… and she spoke to me in English — every night. Regardless of how hard things got, we always stuck as one.”

charles_jenkins_and_hitomi_soga_md
Charles Jenkins and Hitomi Soga

When Jenkins finally stepped outside the North Korean culture after 40 years, he was most surprised to see women in the Army, limits on where you could smoke and black policemen. He had never heard of 60 MINUTES and thought Life magazine would be the place where he would tell his story. He knew something about the 1969 moon landing, however. “I was told that by the Koreans, one of the officers. They wouldn’t say what country, but they said, ‘Una handa la’… some country landed on the moon.”

For more about North Korea, please read One Free Korea and NKZone.

South Korean Neocon

Kim Moon-Soo: The Making and Re-Making of a Radical Thinker, Part I,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 13 August 2005, http://freekorea.blogspot.com/2005/08/kim-moon-soo-making-and-re-making-of.html.

From a fantastic post on One Free Korea

Kim Moon-Soo is the man who may yet break the drought that has fallen on the bleak political landscape of South Korea, one that for too long seemed to have been divided between opportunistic appeasers and opportunistic reactionaries, each with its own dubious connections to Korean dictatorships that the nation’s history will not view kindly. Charismatic, fiery, and proficient in the use of new media, Kim has emerged as the standard-bearer of the New Right, a new political grouping largely formed from former leftists and labor leaders who fought South Korea’s dictatorship of the past and North Korea’s dictatorship of the present.

Like its neoconservative counterpart in the United States, Korea’s New Right is idealistic and intellectual, retaining its liberal values despite rejecting some of the solutions most commonly associated with them. Their Internet magazines, such as DailyNK, fill a role similar to that of publications like The Weekly Standard in the United States (full disclosure–the DailyNK prints my screeds).

Kim’s biography is that of the New Right itself: a former student radical, labor organizer, and political prisoner, Kim emerged from prison to a democratic South Korea, joined the Grand National Party, converted to Christianity, and now seeks to unite both Koreas under democracy while keeping Korea out of the Chinese orbit. Beyond his persuasive skills, Kim’s life story speaks of a deep character, a powerful intellect, an occasionally explosive temper, and a profound attachment to ideas rather than an allegiance to ideology. Kim is no ordinary shop-floor demagogue. The man is also capable of serious thought on matters of statecraft.

This week, Kim introduced South Korea’s counterpart to the North Korean Human Rights Act in the National Assembly. It is the latest in a series of provocative jabs at the governments of North Korea and China, and follows a lifetime of confronting authoritarian regimes.

Read more

South Korean Repression

‘Quiet Diplomacy’ Update,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 29 March 2005, http://freekorea.blogspot.com/2005/03/quiet-diplomacy-update_29.html.

South Korea believes in One Korea, Free From Foreigners. They have realigned as a friend of Pyongyang.

They are against freedom. It is very hard to see the silver lining in this cloud.

[D]ue to intense though indirect pressure by Seoul officials, the North Korean execution tapes, purportedly of “middlemen” who help refugees escape to China, are not yet available for viewing by Koreans in the South. The indirect censure adds to frustration among those documenting the gulags and torture in the North. They charge indifference in the South to evidence of manifold suffering by ethnic siblings across the demilitarized zone.

What is so worrying about this is Seoul’s backsliding. They are becoming less internationalist and less free with every news story. China, Vietnam, and Cambodia are all getting better. South Korea is getting worse.

South Korea is not our enemy. They are a more-or-less free society that is heavily integrated into the world economy. But they are not a friend like Britain, India, and Japan. They are not allies.

South Korean policy appears to be a separate peace with that tailbone of the Cold War, North Korea. If they are strong enough to make peace on their own, then they are strong enough to defend themselves on their own.

United States Forces Korea has served its purpose. Bring them home.