http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-asia/2004/may/22/052209691.html Alleged U.S. Deserter Won't Leave N. Korea By ERIC TALMADGE ASSOCIATED PRESS PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - Nearly 40 years ago, Charles Robert Jenkins allegedly deserted his U.S. Army unit to start a new life in North Korea. He taught English, acted in propaganda films, married a woman 20 years his junior and had two daughters. Then, two years ago, his life started to fall apart. In an unprecedented summit with Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il admitted in September 2002 that Jenkins' wife, Hitomi Soga, had been abducted and brought to the North against her will. With four other abductees, she was allowed to return home. But what North Korea claimed was supposed to be a short homecoming became a prolonged political tug of war, with Tokyo refusing to send Soga and the others back, and Pyongyang keeping their families virtual hostage. For the other families, that saga ended Saturday: Koizumi returned for his second summit with Kim and won the freedom of the five abductees' North Korea-born children in exchange for 250,000 tons of rice and 10 million worth of medical supplies. Jenkins, however, refused to leave. "Kim said he would leave the decision up to Jenkins," Koizumi said after a one-day summit with the reclusive North Korean leader. "I met with Jenkins and his daughters for an hour after the summit. But I was unable to sway him." The fate of Jenkins is a major issue in Japan, mainly because of an outpouring of sympathy for his wife, who has lived alone in her hometown on a small island since her return one month after the 2002 summit. Before leaving for Pyongyang, Koizumi vowed to bring home all the relatives - including Jenkins and his daughters. But officials said Jenkins balked at the plan because he fears he would be extradited to the United States to face a court martial. "We have been forced to give up on bringing them back right away," a senior government official traveling with Koizumi said. "But we will continue our efforts to reunite them." Little is known about Jenkins. According to American military officials, he was a 24-year-old sergeant when he left a border patrol on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone to defect to the North. For defecting, the North Korean government gave him a car and a job teaching English. Soga was his student. Jenkins, a native of Rich Square, N.C., a small town near Raleigh, also acted in low-budget propaganda films. In one, he wore a skinhead wig to portray an evil American. Tokyo has asked Washington to give him special consideration, and perhaps a pardon. But U.S. officials, wary of taking such an action while soldiers are risking their lives in Iraq, have provided no such guarantees. "I'm sympathetic from a human point of view," U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard H. Baker Jr. told reporters. "But he's classified as a deserter." From the start, Jenkins' position complicated efforts to bring the others to Japan. Shortly after the repatriation of his wife, he met with a Japanese media team in Pyongyang, where he was hospitalized, reportedly because of the stress of the separation. He called for his wife to return to the North. His daughters, Mika, 20, and Belinda, 18, are students at the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies. Koizumi suggested that, if Jenkins was afraid of going to Japan, he meet to discuss his future with Soga in a third country, such as China. "I hope all four them will be able to be reunited as soon as possible," he said. "Jenkins said he welcomed that idea." In an optimistic tone before the summit, Soga, whose mother is also a suspected abduction victim but remains unaccounted for, said she wanted her family to be united and "never separated again." But she added that her daughters would likely face a major culture shock were they to join her in Japan. "They don't speak much Japanese," she said. "Maybe they could say `hello.'"