The Reluctant Communist

The Reluctant Communist

My Desertion, Court-martial, and Forty-year Imprisonment in North Korea / Charles Robert Jenkins ; With Jim Frederick

Book - 2008
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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.
Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, c2008
ISBN: 9780520253339
Characteristics: xxxvi, 192 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Frederick, Jim 1971-2014


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Oct 14, 2017

Simple, direct, without artifice of any kind, told in author's voice, refreshing to see someone who regretted the things he'd done wrong, credited the Army the good they did him really. If Trump etc read this book realize there's no reason to fear North Korea considering overall poverty/corruption of those who live there (no wonder Kim Jong Un's afraid of losing power); if people ever got a chance to rise up, he'd be toast! (Heartily recommend The Orphan Masters Son as companion read to this as well.)

May 26, 2012

Recently I found out about the four military defectors to DPRK. First I watched a documentary about Dresnock. Then I read another book by a child escapee from North Korea ("This is Paradise" - also worth reading to get the local people's perspective - life for them is much worse than for the defectors). The Reluctant Communist is my last reading on DPRK.

I think the author could have written more about daily life details. Seems that he mostly mentioned spending time with the families of the other defectors and going to the dollar store and having no heat or electricity or running water and little food and having to constantly move houses. Life there sounds scary not only because of severe misery and poverty but also the crazy mentality of constantly reporting others' misdeeds, having weekly confession, memorization of ideology, constant surveillance, etc. I feel that DPRK is doomed. I wonder if their new leader can take some positive steps to open relations with other countries and stop the crazy corruption.

I'm glad the author and his family escaped finally and got to tell his story. The more awareness about DPRK, the better. What a nightmare.


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