Sunday, April 09, 2006

Charles Jenkins: Prisoner of Pyongyang, Part 2

After half a lifetime being buffeted between Cold War rivals, Charles Jenkins and his wife were free, symbolized by a kiss in front of the media at Jakarta airport in July 2004. "In North Korea we didn't kiss in public," he says. "That's bad there."

Jenkins stayed behind [in North Korea] with his daughters when Pyongyang allowed his wife and four other Japanese to return home after admitting to its bizarre kidnapping program. It took 21 months to reunite the family.

Today, Jenkins lives on a five-year stipend from the Japanese government and on the proceeds of his Japanese book, which has sold more than 300,000 copies.

From the hotel where we conducted this interview, he can see the spot where North Korean spies snatched his wife and her mother while they were walking home from a shopping trip.

He says he still wonders whether something similar could happen to him now. "My life is not worth five cents, I know that. I don't think they have the nerve to come and get me, but they could assassinate me with a bullet through the head from a distance. But if it happens, everything I have written will come out."

[Excerpt from an article by David McNeill, The Independent]

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