Ex-US deserter to North Korea who married Japanese abductee dies

Charles Jenkins dies aged 77: The depressed US army defector who lived 'a dog's life' in North Korea for 40 years

"You say one thing bad about Kim Il-sung and then you dig your own hole, because you're gone", Jenkins told his court martial, referring to the founder of the secretive state.

Once in Japan, Jenkins was subject to a US court-martial in 2004 in which he said he deserted because of fear of being sent to fight in Vietnam.

North Korean agents kidnapped Soga and a number of other ordinary Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s in order to train its spies in the Japanese language and culture.

At an emotional court martial in Japan in 2004, Mr Jenkins, from Rich Square, North Carolina, said: 'It was Christmas time, it was also cold and dark. North Korea eventually acknowledged its program of kidnapping Japanese citizens. North Korea has acknowledged the abductions and allowed Soga and four others to visit Japan in 2002, where they stayed.

Jenkins and his children followed her two years later and were reunited in Indonesia, which doesn't have an extradition treaty with the US. "I don't think they [North Korea] have the nerve to come and get me, but they could assassinate me with a bullet through the head from a distance". "I let the government down, and I made it very hard for my family in the United States to live".

Charles Jenkins died from heart failure and was discovered unconscious by his daughter at his home in Sado Island, northern Japan, on Monday night, Yoshiyuki Tomi from the Japanese Cabinet Office told CNN.

Charles Jenkins dies aged 77: The depressed US army defector who lived 'a dog's life' in North Korea for 40 years
Charles Robert Jenkins dies aged 77: Things to know about the US soldier who lived 'a dog's life' in North Korea

Another American soldier who defected to North Korea died late past year, but in Pyongyang.

After his release, Jenkins served 25 days in a USA military brig and was debriefed for two months about his knowledge of the secretive regime and its sensitive installations. He was a depressed and fearful soldier who didn't want to go to war and just wanted to go home.

The family will start the return to Japan early today to resume life in his wife's hometown on Sado Island, an ancient place of exile. Instead, he became a prisoner in North Korea.

Jenkins had been initially reluctant to join Soga for fear of being extradited to the United States to face a military court-martial.

He moved with his wife and daughter to Sado after.

"I'm homesick for Japan - arigato", he said with a deep bow and the Japanese word for thanks.

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