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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 November, 2004, 06:09 GMT
US army releases Korea deserter
Jenkins arrives at US base to begin formal discharge
Jenkins now has to be formally discharged from the military
A former US soldier found guilty of deserting 40 years ago has been freed from US military custody in Japan.

Charles Jenkins, 64, abandoned his unit in 1965 and defected to North Korea, where he lived for nearly four decades.

He surrendered to the US authorities in September after travelling to Japan to be reunited with his Japanese wife.

Jenkins' plight attracted considerable public sympathy in Japan, leading the government to lobby for him to be treated leniently.

He was originally due to be released on 3 December, but Japanese media said he had had his sentence reduced for good behaviour.

Sobbing with joy after his release, Jenkins was taken by helicopter to the main US army base west of Tokyo.

He will spend the next few days being formally discharged from the military.

He then hopes to settle with his wife Hitomi Soga and their two North Korea-born children, Mika, 21, and Brinda, 19, in her home town of Sado.


Jenkins served 25 days for deserting to North Korea in 1965, when he was on patrol in South Korea for the US military.

He told his court martial that he wanted to avoid "hazardous" duty on the Korean peninsula and in Vietnam.

Jenkins gave himself up to the US in September, while in Japan for medical treatment.

He left North Korea in July, when the authorities there allowed him to visit Indonesia for a supposedly brief reunion with his family, but he went on to his wife's home country.

His case has been closely watched in Japan, especially because his wife was one of five Japanese abducted by North Korea and freed in 2002.

The couple met and married in North Korea.

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Tokyo says he now faces a difficult adjustment to life in a country he knows only through his wife, with whom he shared the long years of Cold War isolation in North Korea.

See Charles Jenkins' release from military custody

Jenkins deserted 'out of fear'
03 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
North Korean mystery solved
03 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan gripped by Cold War love story
18 Jul 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan pleads with US for Jenkins
19 Jul 04 |  Asia-Pacific

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