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Deserter Jenkins back on US soil

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Deserter Jenkins back on US soil

A former US soldier who deserted to North Korea in 1965 has returned to the US for the first time in four decades.

Charles Robert Jenkins arrived in Washington with his Japanese wife and two daughters.

They were due to travel on to North Carolina to visit his 91-year-old mother, who is ill.

Mr Jenkins left North Korea last year, giving himself up to US military authorities in Tokyo, where he was court-martialled for desertion.

He was given a dishonourable discharge and put in a US military jail in Japan for 25 days.

Mr Jenkins, 65, released a statement before leaving Japan asking for the US press to respect his family's privacy while he visited his mother.

Nevertheless, the Jenkins family were mobbed when they arrived in the US.

There has also been talk among some of the residents of his home town of Rich Square, North Carolina, of staging a protest against the army deserter when he arrives.

Extraordinary story

Mr Jenkins' case has received widespread media attention, partly because very few US soldiers have deserted to North Korea and partly because of his extraordinary life in the North.

Mr Jenkins, who said he deserted to avoid fighting in Vietnam, slipped across the border one night while on patrol in the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas.

In the North he married Hitomi Soga, one of five Japanese abducted by North Korea and freed in 2002. The couple has two North Korean-born children, Mika, 21, and Brinda, 19, and now live on the Japanese island of Sado, 300km (185 miles) north of Tokyo.

Hitomi Soga was 19 when she was kidnapped from Sado by North Korean agents in 1978.

She met Mr Jenkins soon afterwards, when she was introduced to him so he could teach her English.

After his wife was freed and left for Japan in 2002, Mr Jenkins finally arranged, with the help of the Japanese government, to meet her in Indonesia in July, before returning to Japan to face US justice.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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