The Reluctant Communist
My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea
Charles Robert Jenkins & Jim Frederick
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In January of 1965, twenty-four-year-old U.S. Army sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins abandoned his post in South Korea, walked across the DMZ, and surrendered to communist North Korean soldiers standing sentry along the world's most heavily militarized border. He believed his action would get him back to the States and a short jail sentence. Instead he found himself in another sort of prison, where for forty years he suffered under one of the most brutal and repressive regimes the world has known. This fast-paced, harrowing tale, told plainly and simply by Jenkins (with journalist Jim Frederick), takes the reader behind the North Korean curtain and reveals the inner workings of its isolated society while offering a powerful testament to the human spirit.
Strange but Engrossing
I admit I had my doubts originally, but this book solidly won me over by the end. I am an avid reader of all things North Korea, and this book occupies a very unique niche in my understanding of the country, and really brings into focus exactly how much the Korean Workers' Party controls everything that happens in the lives of citizens, doubly so for a prized-catch like an American defector.
I wasn't certain if I would enjoy reading an account of the life of someone who betrayed his own country and became a propaganda asset for as criminal a government as North Korea, but Jenkins eventually came to be a sympathetic figure to me.
This book is at times fascinating, at times horrifying, and even occasionally at times somewhat inspirational. In any event, Jenkins managed to change my mind about him by seeming to be a man who made a foolish decision and was stuck with no way to change it for the better for 40 years.
One of the most compelling and bizarre stories from the Cold War era finally ends and in typically unpredictable fashion.
Bad writing- good story
Fascinating story. Content wise it's great. However, the writing is quite poor and very distracting.
I picked up this book after viewing Crossing the Line on Netflix. Jenkins account of living in the DPRK will be of great interest to those who have studied North Korea.