NIIGATA (TR) – Mourners gathered at a wake in Sado City on Thursday for former U.S. Army soldier Charles Jenkins, the one-time captive of North Korea who died at the age of 77 earlier this week, reports Nippon News Network (Dec. 14).
At around 5:00 p.m., about 100 mourners, including Hitomi Soga, the wife of Jenkins, and their daughters Brinda and Mika, gathered for the wake at a funeral hall.
In 1965, Jenkins deserted the U.S. military by entering North Korea from South Korea to avoid combat in Vietnam. He later married Soga, a Japanese national who had been abducted by the Communist nation in 1978.
Soga, a native of Sado, remained in North Korea until returning to Japan with four other abductees in 2002. Jenkins followed in 2004. Later that year, he pleaded guilty to charges of desertion and aiding the enemy. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
In 2009, Jenkins received permanent residency in Japan. Until his death, he was employed in the tourism industry in Sado.
On Monday, Jenkins was found collapsed outside his residence in Sado. He was later confirmed dead at a nearby hospital due to an irregular heart rhythm. A funeral service for the former soldier was scheduled for Friday.