The sad Cold War era tale of Charles Robert Jenkins has come to an end:
Charles Jenkins, a U.S. soldier who defected to North Korea and became a movie star there, has died in Japan, according to reports on Tuesday. He was 77.
The former U.S. sergeant died on Sado island on Monday, where he was living with his wife Hitomi Soga, also a former prisoner of North Korea.
He was among four U.S. soldiers who defected to the North in 1965 and was the only one who was released. The others reportedly died in the isolated state, including James Dresnok, who was said to have died of a stroke in 2016.
According to the BBC, Jenkins collapsed outside his home and died of heart problems in hospital. His wife said in a statement that she was “very surprised” by his death and “cannot think of anything,” according to AFP. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link, but what is interesting about this death is that back in August 2017 Jenkins said in an interview that the North Koreans wanted him dead:
Then there was the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam — Kim Jong Un’s half-brother — in a Malaysian airport in March. Two women ambushed Kim with VX nerve agent, one of the world’s most toxic substances. To Jenkins, it was a reminder that Pyongyang’s brutality knows no bounds — and no one is immune.
“I worry about my daughters more than anything,” he said as he drove his Subaru along the coast. He has forbidden them to comply if Japanese police should attempt to pull them over while driving. Anyone could be a North Korean agent.
“North Korea give them enough money, you don’t know what they’ll do,” he said. “North Korea wants me dead.”
Jenkins’ death is probably just a coincidence, but it is kind of eerie how he died so soon after making that statement. Jenkins was a heavy smoker so heart problems from his smoking is definitely plausible.
You can read more about Jenkins’ time in North Korea from this interesting interview he gave back in 2006. You can also read his book, The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea that was actually a very good read. Despite being a deserter, I always appreciated how Jenkins took responsibility for his own actions and did not try to blame others for what happened to him.
Condolences to the friends and family of Charles Robert Jenkins.
It looks like the North Korean fishermen who are not washing up on Japanese shores dead have become thieves instead:
Japanese police on Saturday arrested three North Korean crew members for suspected theft, a spokesman said, amid a fresh wave of North Korean “ghost ship” fishing vessels washing up in Japanese waters.
The three were among the 10 North Korean “fishermen” spotted aboard a tiny wooden boat struggling in bad weather off the northern island of Hokkaido late last month.
The 45-year-old captain and two other crew members, who all identified themselves as North Korean nationals, were arrested on suspicion of stealing a power generator, a Hokkaido Police Department spokesman said.
The arrest came after some of them reportedly admitted to “taking out” some electronic products from a remote Japanese island where they landed briefly to take refuge.
Soon after the group left, officials noticed items — TV sets, fridges, a washing machine, a motorbike, an electric saw — had vanished from buildings on the island, local media said. [Korea Herald]
You can read more at the link.
At least this scumbag is out of society for the rest of his life:
The former U.S. base worker accused of raping and killing a 20-year-old Okinawan woman last year was sentenced to life in prison with hard labor after being convicted of her murder Friday at Naha District Court.
A panel of three judges and six jurors found Kenneth Franklin Gadson, 33, guilty of murder, rape resulting in death and the illegal disposal of a body in the slaying of Uruma office worker Rina Shimabukuro. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars at Yokosuka Prison in Kurihama, barring a successful appeal.
“The life of the victim — who had just celebrated her adulthood — was suddenly taken and her body was abandoned in the bushes,” chief judge Toshihiro Shibata said when reading the verdict.
“Her body was not found until it was reduced to bone; her sorrow is immeasurable … even giving consideration to the fact that the body was found by the concession of the defendant and he had no previous criminal record, there is no reason to find a lighter sentence than life imprisonment,” he added. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read the rest at the link.
The alcohol restriction for US military personnel in Japan due to a recent deadly drunk driving incident has been relaxed:
U.S. Forces Japan has loosened alcohol restrictions imposed after a fatal Nov. 19 vehicle accident involving a 21-year-old Marine on Okinawa.
The revised rules, which took effect at 4:30 p.m. Thursday local time, allow servicemembers to purchase alcoholic beverages on base and drink them in their on- or off-base homes, Maj. George Tobias, a 5th Air Force spokesman, told Stars and Stripes.
“The purchase or consumption of alcohol off-base is still not permitted with the exception of one’s own off-base residence,” he said. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read more at the link, but if personnel in Japan think the current restrictions on alcohol are bad, at least leadership in USFJ has not resorted to blood alcohol tests at the gate like we have seen in the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea many years ago.
Good luck trying to convince people this is a good idea:
Japan has still not come to a consensus on what to do with a million tons of nuclear water six years after their primary nuclear power plant in Fukushima was rocked by a tsunami.
The water stored in 900 large, dense, packed tanks on site could spill if another major natural disaster should strike, The Japan Times reported.
The government has been urged by experts to gradually release the water to the Pacific Ocean, as all the radioactive elements of the water except tritium—which has been said to be safe in small amounts—have been removed through treatment. But if the tank breaks, the contents may not be able to be controlled.
Local fishermen are extremely hesitant to this solution because many consumers are still uncertain to eat fish caught off Fukushima, despite tests that say the fish is safe to eat.
“People would shun Fukushima fish again as soon as the water is released,” Fumio Haga, a drag-net fisherman, told The Japan Times. (……..)
Currently, the amount of radioactive water at Fukushima is still growing by 150 tons a day. [Newsweek]
You can read more at the link.
For everyone on Okinawa get ready for likely major anti-US protests due to what this idiot did:
An Okinawa-based Marine’s blood-alcohol content was triple Japan’s legal limit Sunday when his vehicle collided with a minitruck, killing its Japanese driver, police say.
The Marine was “slightly injured” in the 5:30 a.m. JST crash at a Naha intersection, Okinawa policeman Kazuhiko Miyagi told The Associated Press.
The victim – a 61-year-old man – was making a turn when his vehicle was hit by the servicemember’s truck, which was coming in the opposite direction, Japanese media reports said. Witness accounts say the Japanese driver had the right of way, and that the Marine may have gone through a red light.
Miyagi told AP that a breath test indicated the servicemember had a blood-alcohol level that was three times Japan’s legal limit of 0.03 percent. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read more at the link, but three time the legal limit would be a BAC of .09. So he was not completely smashed, but regardless would be legally drunk in the United States as well. The highest limit in the US is a BAC of .08. Then there is the fact he was driving a military vehicle. If he was drunk on duty that makes this even worse or did he steal the vehicle? I guess we will eventually find out what happened, but condolences to the family of the deceased driver. There is never an excuse to drive drunk especially some place with easy access to taxis like Okinawa.
Here is an update from the trial of a former US Marine who killed a Japanese woman on Okinawa last year:
The parents of a 20-year-old Okinawan woman murdered last year told a packed courtroom Friday they want the former Air Force contractor charged in her death to pay for the brutal crime with his life.
“A murderer, who took my daughter’s life, should not be allowed to live,” the mother said in a statement read by her lawyer during the second day of Kenneth Franklin Gadson’s trial at Naha District Court.
Gadson, 33, a former Marine who was a civilian employee at a Kadena Air Base cable and internet provider at the time of his arrest, is charged with murder, rape resulting in death and the illegal disposal of a body in the death of Rina Shimabukuro. He is being tried under Japan’s lay judge system with three judges and six jurors.
Shimabukuro disappeared after going out for a walk on the evening of April 28, 2016. Gadson became a suspect — and was later charged in the crime — after police spotted his SUV while checking vehicles captured by security cameras in the area.
During the previous day’s proceedings — which mostly focused on whether Shimabukuro’s killing was premeditated — Gadson read a prepared statement pleading guilty to rape resulting in death and illegal disposal of the body but denied the murder charge, stating that he had “no plans to kill her.”
Gadson told the court he planned to knock her unconscious, take her to a hotel in a suitcase to rape her and release her afterward. After failing to knock her out, he panicked and was not able to complete his plan, he said. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read the rest at the link, but I don’t blame the family for wanting this scumbag put down.