Charles Jenkins lived a fairly normal life in Rich Square, North Carolina back in 1940. But all that changed when the United States of America began fighting during the Vietnam War. The young man suddenly became a U.S. soldier stationed in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.
Despite having a relatively easier job compared to being sent in the front lines, Charles was still riddled with fear. The man was afraid that he would be fatally wounded if he stayed on his post or if he was suddenly sent to Vietnam to fight.
His anxiety eventually took a toll on him, leading him to start a drinking habit. This eventually led him to decide to abandon his post. At that time, defection meant life imprisonment, but Charles still thought that it was better than the life he was living.
The U.S. soldier decided to go to Russia through North Korea.
But little did he know that a life of suffering would be waiting for him on the other side. Charles was instantly captured along by three other soldiers.
According to the source, the four soldiers were held in a small room that didn’t have electricity. It also took a long time for them to start living separately because they weren’t allowed privacy. Long hours of North Korea propaganda were shown to them and the soldiers were required to teach English to would-be spies.
15 years after his capture, the government said that Charles was going to marry a Japanese woman they have selected for him who was also 19 years his junior. But what he didn’t expect was that he would fall in love with her after they met.
Charles and his bride, Hitomi Saga, had built their family and then their luck came by. It was during this time that Kim Jong-il annound that he will allow Charles and his family to go back to their home country for 10 days.
Seeing that this is the only way for their family to get out of North Korea, Hitomi agreed to go even if it means that she would leaving her family behind. With the help of her family members, they were able to get the family out of their prison and fly to Japan. Charles then surrendered himself to the local U.S base and was given a 30-day prison sentence which he gladly served.
Sadly, Charles passed away last year and even though everyone would remember him as the soldier who abandoned his post, no one can deny that he has lived a life that is well-lived.
Do you think you can understand the decision that this U.S. soldier made? What would you have done if you were consumed by the same fears that Charles experienced? Share your thoughts, reactions, and opinions in the comments section below!