Read The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea by Charles Robert Jenkins Online


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 anothIn 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....

Title : The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea
Author :
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ISBN : 9780520253339
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 238 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea Reviews

  • Frieda Vizel
    2019-02-10 02:37

    I so enjoyed this book. I think Jim Frederick, the journalist who wrote the memoir for the soldier Charles R Jenkins, deserves a lot of the credit. It is a sixty year story of one giant mistake and lots of strange and real events. An average person, an American soldier, decided in a moment of cowardice to leave his unit and cross the border from South Korea to North Korea, remained hostage there for 40 years until he and his family were released to Japan. I am sure Jenkins is in some ways a difficult person and I have no doubt that this story could have been unflattering or difficult to read had there not been a skilled writer at the task, but the book isn’t aggrandizing or obsessed with the personality of the protagonist. It just focuses on a series of fascinating and true events in very plain first person language. It helps that Jenkins apologizes, justifies himself but doesn't fall over himself in begging forgiveness for his dessertion.The book is funny and heartwarming (the parts about his marriage made me cry}, plus quite informative about North Korea, the army, diplomacy and such. Perfect for the summer. I recommend it to all of my friends.---PS: the part about the Korean requirement of regular self-criticism (a confession of sorts) is a hoot and had me in stiches. Jenkins and his buddies would in all seriousness look for things they can do wrong, minor things, so they can record the mandatory self-criticism. Jenkins says: “We would do something we knew we weren’t supposed to, like steal some peaches, and we’d say ‘that’s one for the sum up [self-criticism] book’”. Crackup! Needing to sin so you can confess to your sins, how twisted can the logic be? I think I’ll start my own sum up book now.It just goes to show how anything important to our lives, like introspection or self criticism, becomes such a hilarious joke when forced.

  • Michael Scott
    2019-01-21 05:33

    Charles Robert Jenkins's The Reluctant Communist is the story of the defection to, virtual imprisonment in, and return from North Korea. As a young Sergeant in the US Army, Jenkins crossed in mid-1950s the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separated US-friendly South Korea from the Communist North Korea of Kim Il-Sung. Once "over", Jenkins found himself a trophy for the North Korean government, the rare American who decided North Korea was the better deal. For forty years, Jenkins has to live under the "guidance" (read: mandatory orders) of the cadres, semi-anonymous officials of the repressive regime. His escape is bound to his getting married with a Japanese woman who was abducted by the North Koreans, presumably to educate spies in Japanese culture. In the early 2000s, the Japanese prime-minister Koizumi pressured North Korea into admitting the abductions and in returning the abducted Japanese; his success was extended to the families of these Japanese, and thus to Jenkins.The story told by Jenkins is interesting. We get a glimpse of the life in North Korea, including some insider information about the evolution of conditions, the worsening of public and social services (as experienced by someone behind a golden fence), the growth of corruption and endemic theft. We get to understand the extent of indoctrination (the daily or weekly chores of learning the words of The Great Leader, the periodic self-criticism), all under the supervision of house and regional leaders. We get a few glimpses of the double-speak and general insubordination permeating the society. I am, however, unable to really appreciate this story. There are many question marks about the details described by Jenkins; among them, the explanation about crossing the DMZ, the claim of almost no cooperation with the party, the claim of a detached mind (of not being at all involved, just living through the motions); how could Jenkins build a trade in honey without the officials finding out about it? etc. There is little of what we did not know about the internals of North Korea; the story gives me the feeling that Jenkins want to avoid burning the bridges back to North Korea. Some of the text feels like vague confirmation (read:what the West wants to hear): claims of seeing political homicides, claims of seeing the workings of labor camps, an alleged (and extremely improbable) confession of homicidal crimes by a party leader, etc.Overall, a non-informative book from a shady character. The only interesting element is North Korea.

  • else fine
    2019-01-30 07:21

    There's plenty of tragedy in Jenkins' story, but the truly compelling part is how he not only survived, but carved out a kind of peaceful haven in the midst of North Korea. It's a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the spirit. How to make a fishing net that will last forever (you will need one dead pig for this), how to break into the black market, how to build a self-heating floor from scraps or rig up your own plumbing: it's all in here, part of the way in which people adapt to repression and scarcity. Though his account of his dealings with the state are fairly toneless, his descriptions of the human element - family, neighbors, and fellow American defectors - brings the narrative alive, and gives the reader an amazing look at what daily life is like inside North Korea.

  • Michael
    2019-02-03 03:43

    What a terrible piss-poor existence this man had. I felt like I lived it with him as I read this book. Every day was the same. Every year was the same.I didn't want to stop reading it because I didn't want to miss something exciting, but it was just more of the same. Surviving and existing, but not really living. Pathetic.

  • Shellie
    2019-02-12 09:26

    The words I chose to describe this may be surprising to you, they are to me. This is a sweet story of one bad decision and the consequences. Mr. Jenkins tells his story of living in North Korea with simple words and clear images. It is simple in part because HE is simple. He is so simple because he lived his adult life inside a country with little if any outside influence. I read this book because of reading "Escape From Camp 14" and was as surprised by the simplicity of 'Reluctant' as I was by the harshness of 'Camp 14' both are stark descriptions of life inside North Korea, both told after miraculously leaving. Both are educational in vastly different ways.

  • La Petite Américaine
    2019-02-09 04:43

    Incredible. I read this in a day. I'm so glad that Jenkins was able to get himself and his family out of North Korea safely. As for his desertion, it's clear from the story that he's sorry, and that he paid for it with 40 years of his life in the prison-state that is North Korea.Great, great read.

  • Fred
    2019-02-11 09:33

    Being on a North Korea kick at the moment, this book seemed like essential reading. And indeed it is. Kafka could hardly have written a more . . . Kafkaesque story than the true (probably mostly) story of Charles Robert Jenkins who one cold night in early 1965 walked across the DMZ into North Korea, deserting his unit for, he thought, repatriation back to the United States via the Soviet puppet masters of North Korea. His motive? He was lonely, scared, and drunk. The problem: there were no Soviet puppet masters of North Korea, only Kim Il Sung. What followed was a truly bizarre and sad 40 years, punctuated with a few decent moments. Jenkins, for example, did marry a woman whom he loved and who loved him, and they had two daughters. His wife was a Japanese national kidnapped in her hometown by North Korean agents and lived her own Kafkaesque nightmare. In 2002 Kim Jong Il decided to come half clean on the kidnappings of Japanese citizens and released the ones who were still alive (or to be more precise, the ones N. Korea acknowledged). This included his wife, and eventually their two daughters and finally Jenkins himself, after nearly 40 years behind the Really Weird Curtain. He was court martialed (lawman always comes calling) and he served a month in the brig and today he lives with his family in Japan. This is his story and it is a fascinating one.Some interesting revelations:- Jenkins was compelled to translate movies for, he assumes, subtitling. He was given *audio* snippets of movies and a tape recorder with slow and fast functions and required to translate entire movies this way. Often he had no idea what he was translating, but he does know that he translated Kramer vs Kramer and Mary Poppins.- He acknowledges that over the years he (and several other Americans whom he lived with) and his family definitely had a higher living standard than the average North Korean. Yet this standard was still appallingly low. Jenkins goes into specific detail. Think: rats in the toilet.- His sadness and loneliness at having to live with his "big mistake." He thought he would for sure die in North Koreah. Interestingly, he says that when people ask him if he would do it all over again he cannot deny that he would, for the simple reason that it only because he walked into North Korea that he lived his life with the love of his life and their children, and he could not agree to doing a life over again without them.

  • Răzvan Coloja
    2019-01-28 04:23

    Not the best book about North Korea, but worth a read. It focuses mainly on the few American deserters in North Korea, their families and their interaction with the system of the DPRK.

  • Cami Connell
    2019-02-09 04:28

    Glad to be an American!

  • Zuza
    2019-02-05 03:38

    Charles Robert Jenkins byl americký voják. Při jedné misi na hranici mezi Severní a Jižní Koreou se ale z důvodů, kterým zas tak nerozumím, dostal do takového psychického stavu, že se rozhodl dezertovat. Další Jenkinsova poněkud nepochopitelná myšlenka byla, že kdyby prchal na jih, hned by ho chytili, takže uteče na sever, nechá se ze Severní Koreje vydat do Ruska a odtud do USA. Proč se rozhodl utéct takto, ač jeho plán stejně zahrnoval, že nakonec skončí před vojenským soudem v USA, mi není jasné. Chápu ale že pro něj Severní Korea a Rusko tvořily prostě část komunistického bloku a neshledával tak mezi nimi nějaký větší rozdíl.Jaké ale bylo jeho překvapení když zjistil, že Severní Korea je vlastně jedno takové velké vězení, ze kterého se nedá dostat..Jak vidíte, nakonec se odtud dostal a mohl tak napsat tuto knížku, s níž mu pomohl novinář Jim Frederick, který na prvních pěti stranách prozradil z děje tolik, že si i já dovolím pokračovat. Bylo pro mě totiž velkou novinkou zjištění, že Severní Korea roky unášela Japonce, protože potřebovala, aby budoucí špehy někdo učil japonštinu a japonské zvyky (unesli nejspíš i mnoho lidí z jiných zemí, převážně se zde ale mluví o japoncích). A jednou z unesených byla Hitomi Soga, manželka právě našeho Roberta Jenkinse, která se díky japonské vládě spolu s několika dalšími unesenými, Jenkinsem a dvěma dcerami mohla po mnoha letech vrátit zpět do Japonska.Doporučuju pokud vás zajímá vhled do života v Severní Koreji. Ze začátku je sice příběh poněkud depresivní - víte, že se Jenkins sice dostane pryč, ale že tam ještě skoro čtyřicet let bude muset vydržet -, ale člověk si časem zvykne a je jen fascinovám tím, jak to tam funguje.

  • Daniel
    2019-02-12 09:25

    Not going to lie, I read this book because I was in awe with video the Vice did on North Korea. They followed it up with a blurb on Jenkins which lead me to this book. If you've browsed the Internet hunting for information on North Korea, you're probably not going to get any interesting insights from this book. You'll also quickly notice that Jenkins has the vocabulary and cadence of a sixth grader (that's probably a direct reflection of both his 40 years in North Korea and just how much North Korea values education and the well being of it's people). Like most people said, I think I finished this in about two days.The book gave some good food for thought and holds your interest, nonetheless.Coming from a middle-class background, I was never placed in a position where one of my only options for a better life was to join the military. I was also never placed in a position where I may have been sent to war. Although, I can't say with confidence what I would do if I was placed in the position of Jenkins (where I was homesick on the other side of the world and firmly believed that I was about to be sent to war), I can say with confidence that if I were in that situation as a sergeant leading troops on a routine nightly rotation of the DMZ, I would not abandon my troops, leave them for dead, while maneuvering myself through a minefield to cross the border to surrender myself to North Korea, while entertaining a fantasy that, once I speak to an embassy inside North Korea, I'll be sent back to America as some sort of military hero through an international hostage trade. Which is exactly what he did.A thing that got me thinking, is I do question if he is remorseful about what he did. I also think, that just maybe, North Korea did indeed offer him a better life?He said it himself, it was both the best and worst thing that happened to him. The best thing because of his wife (I don't question his love and devotion for her and his daughters), and the worst thing because, well, he's now an expatriot in North Korea.Adding my feelings about his character, he comes across as cowardly and reckless. He made it no secret that he liked to drink (he did drink about ten beers before crossing the border) and I'm convinced that if he wasn't in North Korea he probably would have drank himself to death and wouldn't be alive today. In that respect, I think North Korea saved him. Not to mention, if it wasn't for North Korea, more-or-less, mating him with his wife (who was kidnapped in Japan for North Korea's spy program) he wouldn't have the family he has today. It was because he was married to her that he got out.This is turning into a long one. Interesting and not very challenging read for someone who's interested in North Korea.

  • Matthew
    2019-01-29 02:38

    Former U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins' shocking story of dishonorable defection, perpetual hardship, and an unlikely romance unfold in this ghostwritten memoir told now decades after his "release" from North Korea. TIME magazine correspondent Jim Frederick assists in crafting a regret-filled attempt of rectifying Jenkins' 1965 defection and subsequent life across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) into hostile territory. His life in North Korea was indeed extraordinary but is everything what it seems on the surface?Jenkins' originally published his memoir in Japanese in 2005 and was then translated into Korean in 2006; this English language edition tells his unbelievable story from his unlikely desertion while leading a patrol, to his discovery of three other American defectors, to his adjustment to new life in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Because of his unique willingness to cross over, Jenkins and the other defectors occupied a unique position in North Korean society; not fully trusted yet strangely revered as "Cold War trophies". Some even rose to celebrity status after portraying despicable foreigners in popular propaganda films.Although Jenkins mostly lived in rather spartan conditions, he's quick to point out that others in the North Korean countryside were not as fortunate during times of famine. His apparent ineffective brainwashing sessions were constant and government-assigned minders persistently dictated his day-to-day life. His residence changed often as did his assigned jobs; sometimes making fish nets other times teaching English. However regimented his life was, he still found himself in a situation to fall in love with a Japanese abductee. What happens when Jenkins leaves North Korea I'll leave for the reader to discover.His narration is seductively easy to follow and makes appropriate detours when explanations are necessary to clarify context. The reader is cautiously drawn in to empathize with Jenkins and his plight. His story is told simply with few obvious embellishments. However, I'm still not fully convinced that the whole story is being fully disclosed. Jenkins' relationship with the other Americans is of particular interest, partly because some of the accounts conflict with what fellow defector Joe Dresnok recalls in the 2006 documentary Crossing the Line.What concludes is a peculiar tale of almost Hollywood caliber. Reportedly, American film producer Brett Ratner has secured the rights to make a film adaption of Jenkins' story. One can only hope it's better than Tower Heist. That's not asking for much.

  • Zach
    2019-01-28 05:21

    The story of Charles Robert Jenkins piques your interest right away: a 24-year-old Army sergeant gets drunk and walks across the North-South Korean demilitarized zone, is trapped in one of the world's most dictatorial nations, and is finally released to the Japanese 40 years later. "The Reluctant Communist" is a memoir written by Mr. Jenkins to reflect on his decades of imprisonment in the totalitarian society known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.Mr. Jenkins recalls his idiocy that fateful day in 1965 when he deserted his unit in hopes of getting handed off to the Soviets, and then extradited to the United States to serve a short prison sentence. His plan immediately begins falling apart once he crosses the 38th parallel. When the North Koreans capture Mr. Jenkins, they immediately begin interrogating him for information. He knew that he was in trouble when he was thrown into a group with three other American deserters, one of which told him he "just jumped in the fire."He describes the entire country as a "giant prison," which the U.S. State Department estimates as having a population of 25 million people. Mr. Jenkins was once told by one of the North Korean cadre that Kim Il-Sung himself said that one American was worth 100 Koreans, leading him to believe the officials wouldn't kill him or his compatriots. North Korean officials even decide to use him and the other Americans as stars in North Korean propaganda movies to portray the evil Westerners against the heroic North Koreans. He admits he has had a slightly better lifestyle compared to other less fortunate North Koreans, though it was by no means lavish. (The least fortunate are the estimated 200,000 North Koreans currently residing in hard labor camps, a terrible lifestyle reserved for traitors and their families.)Mr. Jenkins repeatedly expresses deep regret in abandoning his unit in 1965, and accepts a 30-day sentence from the U.S. Army after his escape. This book explains how he managed to cope with the stressful conditions of North Korea, how he managed to start and raise a family there, and how he managed to escape to Japan with his two daughters and wife Hitomi, whom was abducted from her hometown and forcefully brought to North Korea in 1978. Mr. Jenkins is the only known Westerner to have lived most of his life in North Korea and then escape to write a memoir about it, making this book a must-read among people who want to know the inner-workings of one of the most repressive regimes on Earth. His story is one you won't forget.

  • Mazola1
    2019-02-02 04:27

    Charles Robert Jenkins, a young GI serving in South Korea just as the Vietnam War was about to explode, and tired and frightened of his assignment, decided to cross the DMZ into North Korea. He thought he would be sent by North Korea back to the United States, where the Army would deal with him more leniently than it would in South Korea. This book is the story of the consequences of what turned out to be a world class mistake, and how sometimes a single wrong decision can completly change a person's life.Jenkins was held by the North Koreans as a sort of cold war propaganda trophy, forced to teach English to potential North Korean spies and to act in North Korean propaganda films. There for forty years, he lived where he was told to live, did the work he was told to do, lived with those he was told to live with, had to participate in endless self criticism sessions and memorize the sayings and teachings of the North Korean leaders. He had a first hand look at one of the world's most repressive and secretive regimes, and his book is one of the few first person accounts of life in North Korea. That alone makes it noteworthy. Ultimately, and incredibly, he married a Japanese citizen who had been kidnapped by the North Koreans and taken to North Korea. He fathered two children with her, and finally went to live with her in Japan after the Japanese government was able to obtain her release.Jenkins details North Korea's crazy system of government, where indoctrination is a way of life and the poverty is so severe he lived in unheated houses, and ate mostly rice and cabbage soup. Jenkins' story is utterly incredible, and his book makes a fascinating read. It is told in simple sentences which no doubt reflect Jenkins' character. He seems to be a man of few words. Perhaps the most incredible thing about his book is that, considering how long he was held in North Korea, how mysterious that country is, and that few people have ever had the vantage point inside North Korea that Jenkins had, it is as short as it is. But perhaps the mark of a really good book is that it seems too short.

  • Lisa
    2019-02-01 06:24

    Relying on his 24 year old judgement, Army Sergeant Charles Jenkins goes AWOL by walking across the DMZ into Northern Korea and surrendering. He believed that would get him back to the US and short time in the brig, while avoiding a tour of Vietnam. Instead he was trapped in North Korea for 40 years.This book is very interesting and I recommend it to all, especially those who never give a thought to North Korea. We have it pretty good in the US and we need to protect our Constitution and restore the balance of power which has been tipping toward the executive branch for years.The US Army should tell this story to all personnel. While reading this book (yes, I actually read this book--no audiobook available) Sgt. Bergdahl was released from the Taliban in Afghanistan. I can't imagine being held by the Taliban was a picnic either, but I am surprised that the White House and friends consider him a "hero". I will be following his story.

  • Tanya W
    2019-02-04 09:31

    I really liked this book. It gives a rare and modern insight into life in North Korea. Mr. Jenkins was depressed and unhappy in his military assignment for the U.S. in South Korea, near the DMZ (de-militarized zone). In his naivete and lack of judgment, he made a decision to go AWOL and figured he could slip into North Korea and get back to the US. Instead he was a prisoner for nearly 40 years, in a similar way to how all North Korean citizens are prisoners. He was one of the very lucky few who ever get to leave, which came about by some very provident circumstances. I am very happy for him and his family. I am sad for people who live what most of us would consider a terrible life. It's astounding that one or a few very selfish people can cause a nation of 25 million to live in poverty, ignorance, and bondage. I am thankful for my personal assurance through my faith that it will be "made up" to these innocents after this life is over. Kim Jong will have to answer to God.

  • Quizzicalbee
    2019-01-30 02:17

    I've been following the Jenkins case for some time, having lived in Japan for 3 years and been frequently exposed to Japanese searches for citizens missing and said to have been abducted by North Korea. I also remember being told in high school that a number of Americans had defected to North Korea in the wake of the Korean conflict. Thus, it was on the one hand deeply satisfying to finally learn of the answer to these mysteries, but on the other hand it was completely astonishing to learn that so much that had seemed to be paranoid rumors, was actually true. Jenkins strikes me as a fundamentally decent human being who got in over his head in 1965, and made one stupid mistake for which he paid a million times over. Selfishly, though, I'm glad that he was there to write this fascinating, astonishing account of North Korea.

  • Brian
    2019-02-13 03:44

    I didn't think I would have much sympathy for this guy. After all, he deserted from the US Army and ran away to North Korean in the 60's to avoid Vietnam (smooth move!). He resurfaced a few years ago when North Korea admitted to having kidnapped a bunch of Japanese civilians to use as spy instructors (including the woman who became his wife). But Jenkins is so apoloigetic for his desertion and so upfront about his mistakes that it's hard not to feel sorry for him. His account of four decades as a virtual prisoner in North Korea is absolutely fascinating. The author likens Jenkins to a teenager who gets killed while doing something stupid. He paid for his stupidity over and over during his years in North Korea. Weird, wild stuff.

  • Leah Petersen
    2019-02-02 05:22

    Fascinating read. While I was in disagreement with many of Mr. Jenkins decisions and thought processes he has offered a glimpse into a void. It made me grateful for the extensive knowledge network that lets us take in a larger view of reality. To learn of a entire countries faux reality it made me wary of the "facts" I might ignorantly want to rely on as stable and true. While the example of propaganda in North Korea is extreme, you can't help but wonder to what extent other countries, including the US, are made into what someone else desires.

  • Fiveftjen
    2019-02-19 02:30

    Easy and quick read. Just a glimpse into North Korean life. (What a useless and petty society.) You can't help but think how incredibly DUMB this guy was to get himself into this situation, but then also how resourceful he was stringing together a life with less than a roll of duck tape. Being poor and from the semi-rural South probably HELPED in that regard.

  • Pat
    2019-01-29 04:28

    This is rather a sad little book about a sad little man who, through ignorance, made one powerful mistake that he has paid dearly for for pretty much the rest of his life. Of course, it is self-serving as well.

  • Rick Laat
    2019-01-23 02:27

    Truly impressive. I lack the words to describe this book. It is incomprehensible and unimaginable how one, perhaps stupid, decision can have such an impact on one's life. It is one of the best books in it's genre in my view.

  • Darcy
    2019-01-20 10:43

    Interesting and easy read! I finished this book in three days. A military man leaves his post in South Korea, walks into North Korea on his own and spends 40 years there. I am now fascinated with North Korea!

  • Jill
    2019-02-08 07:21

    This is a true story about a soldier that abandoned his post in South Korea,walked across the DMZ,and surrendered to North Korea.This is an incredible story of betrayal,love and the search for redemption.

  • Scott
    2019-02-01 04:20

    I looked forward to reading this book and found myself disappointed early on in my read. It certainly is a read for those interested in NK, as this gives a different perspective. However, having read multiple books about NK already, I knew of the horrible treatment by the government towards its own people. Jenkins' experience, self-admittedly, was not as bad as N Koreans, and for me, know this this was somewhat anti-climatic. His language is coarse, and matter of fact throughout. Again, for a different perspective, a read, just not as engrossing as others.

  • Regina Phalange
    2019-01-29 08:31

    A conversational account of Jenkins's story as a US Army deserter, this book provides a glimpse into life in North Korea. Jenkins does a good job of explaining his crazy-to-others plan to desert. I would have liked to see Jenkins address the psychological effects of living in a closed society like North Korea and how someone can overcome that in their daily existence. Emotional and engrossing, I recommend it to anyone interested in North Korea, stories of survival, and the triumph of human spirit.

  • Vanda
    2019-01-29 03:42

    Ze Severní Karolíny do Severní Koreje. Příběh chlapce z amerického zapadákova, který se v patnácti vytrhl z prostředí nefunkční rodiny vstupem do Národní gardy a později to vzal přes armádu do Severní Koreje. Přiznám se, že mi jeho postava není příliš sympatická. Nevím ani, do jaké míry lze jeho výpovědi důvěřovat, nicméně i tak je jeho svědectví o světě zavlečených cizinců v Severní Koreji jedinečné a rozhodně zajímavé. Není to žádná pohlcující četba, nepříliš dlouhá kniha zachycuje vlastně jen prosté Jenkinsovo vyprávění tak, jak si věci vybavuje či vysvětluje bez zjevných zásahů profesionálního spisovatele a je to znát, čtete to jen kvůli těm informacím. Zajímavý doprovodný dokument o Dresnokovi, Jenkins se v něm rovněž vyskytuje: Crossing the Line

  • Aubrey Stapp
    2019-01-23 10:35

    Absolutely fascinating

  • Relstuart
    2019-01-23 03:38

    If you want an understanding of what it must be like living under the communist regime in North Korea this book will give you a glimpse. It follows an American soldier on his third assignment (second in South Korea) who was worried about doing combat patrols there. He was afraid of the possible violence. He doesn't go in depth as to what about combat made him afraid. He also knew that his unit back in the USA was being activated to be sent to Vietnam (a conflict in it's opening phases of US involvement). He was afraid he was going to be sent home eventually to be sent right back out again and into combat. Again, no information as to why someone what had been in the Army the length of time he had was so uncomfortable about going into combat. Fear is natural but just finishing several other books about WWII veterans part of doing your duty is engaging the enemy in spite of your fear. SSgt Jenkins did know how/did not want to do this. He thought if he slipped over the border into North Korea they would turn him over to the Russians and they would trade him back the USA where he would be court-martialed out of the Army and avoid combat. Easy peezy right? His plan failed to work. North Korea captured him as he planned but refused to let him go. They thrust North Korean citizenship on him and worked to indoctrinate him into the communist society with a couple other soldiers they had either captured or had defected. SSgt Jenkins would be a prisoner for 40 years.One of the interesting things about the North Korean communist culture was the attitude of self critisism that was required. Every day SSgt Jenkins was required to write in a diary about his failure in some way to follow the teachings of the beloved leader of the country. Perhaps how he failed to maintain some piece of property and as a result it broke. How this did not live up the standards of communism and honor the dear leader and how he would change his life to do better. Perhaps he told a lie but he realized this did not honor the dear leader. Perhaps he wasted food or some other resource. Public confession in small groups was constantly required. While acknowledging that you commited an error is sometimes appropriate and a sign of maturity here it was used to create a feeling that the individual under this system were never good enough. That they must constantly strive (but never achieve) to honor the leader of the communist nation. Constant pressure, constant review, and constant confession and promises to do better. The person leading the small groups would constantly change so no relationship could be built where advantage or slacking could take place. Eventually the Noth Koreans complained that SSgt Jenkins was not having sex with his cook like he was supposed to. (They didn't get along) and then one of the Americans got the cook in his area pregenant. The cooks were supposed to be infertile and the North Koreans did not want the Americans creating racially impure children. So they found people from other races to marry them. In SSgt Jenkins' case this was a young Japanese woman the North Koreans had kidnapped. The Koreans wanted to have some control over every aspect of every citizen's lives. To SSgt Jenkins credit he did not force himself on her like the Koreans told him too but over time by his kindness and their simularity of circumstance of being strangers in a strange land she fell in love with him and they married and had a couple of daughters (and a son that died not long after birth). One of the things the North Koreans required SSgt Jenkins do was star in government produced films as the evil white man. During a diplimatic meeting with Japan the North Koreans let slip that they had abducted Japanese citizens. Japan demanded their return and eventually SSgt Jenkins's wife was sent to Japan to "vist". However, she refused to return and finally the North Korean governement allowed SSgt Jenkins and their children to also go visit his wife in a neutral country. They gave him gifts and money and tried to convince SSgt Jenkins to talk his wife into coming back and promising them a new house and car if he was successful. Instead, while deeply concerned about his punishment from the Army SSgt Jenkins agreed to go to Japan with his wife. The Army assigned him a defense attorney (who was excellent accourding the book and the results he got) who worked with SSgt Jenkins as he turned himself in with the Army. He was court-martialed and sentenced to 30 days confinement. After 40 years trapped in North Korea this was probably a reasonable sentence. SSgt Jenkins settled with his family in Japan but was able to visit his family in America and reunite with siblings and his mother.

  • International Cat Lady
    2019-01-22 03:44

    I have *very* mixed feelings about it. I read this book from beginning to end rather quickly, and I found it absolutely fascinating… if at times rather grating.This book, as you might be able to glean from the title, is about a former US Army soldier Sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins who, while stationed at the DMZ in 1965 decided to go AWOL and cross the border into North Korea. He didn’t choose to do this out of some ideological affinity for North Korea; he did it because he had some damn fool idea that the North Koreans would send him via Russia to the US – and he would thereby manage to get sent home and, as such, avoid dangerous assignments along the DMZ and a possible transfer to Vietnam. And, oh yeah – he was drunk at the time, so no doubt this seemed like a logical decision.Jenkins writes about his “forty-year imprisonment” as though he suffered in the gulags alongside average North Koreans… whereas in truth, while his existence was far from Western upper-class comfort, it was princely by North Korean standards. All that being said, I still found the book fascinating. There are so few stories out there about day-to-day life in North Korea – and none such by any other Americans – that this book provides a wealth of insights unavailable anywhere else. I won’t go into the details; if this is something that interests you, read the book.I will, however, point out a couple of rather mundane things that caught my eye:The product-purchasing system that existed in the Former Soviet Union – and which still can be found in many stores (although decreasing in number) across the FSU – was apparently common in North Korea as well. This is how the “system” works: You tell Storekeeper A what you want to buy. S/he gives you a ticket, which you take to Storekeeper B. You pay Storekeeper B and are given a receipt. You take this receipt back to Storekeeper A, and are only then given the item. I hadn’t realized that this “system” was found in any countries other than the FSU, although it makes an odd kind of sense for it to exist in a Communist country. After all, everyone *must* be employed, so the more jobs available (even if they are needless), the better.One thing which Jenkins mentioned as being “typically North Korean,” but which jumped out at me as being “typically Korean” came from an instance in which one of his friends (another American defector, Jerry Wayne Parrish) was dying of kidney failure. Parrish had been hospitalized numerous times for minor kidney troubles, and simply assumed this was another such minor event – the hospital released him, allowing him to continue believing this, but told his friends and family the truth: he was dying, and they thought it was best for him to remain unaware of this fact. I have heard numerous times here in South Korea that doctors will never (or rarely, depending on who you ask about this) tell a patient that s/he is terminal so as not to worry him/her. I find it rather reassuring that there are still cultural oddities which span the peninsula.