TOKYO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- The American deserter who spent nearly 40 years in North Korea has told Time magazine that the communist regime tried to recruit his daughters as spies.
Former U.S. Army Sgt. Charles Robert Jenkins said that his daughters, Mika, 21, and Brinda, 19, whose mother is Japanese, were enrolled in Pyongyang's Foreign Language College, an elite institution believed to be a training ground for intelligence operatives.
"They wanted to turn them into spies," Jenkins tearfully said. As there are many mixed-race children of American soldiers and South Korean mothers in South Korea, Jenkins said he believes that his daughters could pass for South Koreans.
Jenkins, 68, was sentenced to a 30-day jail term at a U.S. naval base in Japan after a Nov. 3 court martial found him guilty of desertion. He was released Nov. 27 after serving 25 days.
"I made a big mistake of my life, but getting my daughters out of there, that was one right thing I did," he told the magazine.
He said that his feelings for his wife Hitomi Soga, who had been abducted from her home in Japan, saved his life. "When I met her, my life changed a lot."