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Hitomi Soga-Jenkins (Japanese: 曽我ひとみ Soga Hitomi, born May 17, 1959) is a Japanese woman who was abducted to North Korea together with her mother, Miyoshi Soga, from Sado Island, Japan, in 1978. She was "given" to and later married Charles Robert Jenkins, an American defector to North Korea, in 1980. Soga currently lives in Japan.
Abduction and life in North Korea
Soga, a nurse, was abducted from her hometown of Mano-cho, now part of the city of Sado, Niigata, on August 12, 1978, and taken to North Korea to train agents in Japanese customs and language. Her then 46-year-old mother, Miyoshi, disappeared at the same time and has not been heard from since. The North Koreans gave Soga the Korean name Min Hye-gyong (Korean: 민혜경). She met Jenkins in early July 1980, when he was asked to teach her English, and they married on August 8, 1980. They had two daughters, Mika and Brinda.
Soga was one of a group of five Japanese abductees whom North Korea allowed to visit their homeland in September 2002. Though the trip was intended to be brief, she, like her four companions, never returned to North Korea. She and many Japanese called on North Korea to release family members who had been left behind. Soga was later reunited with her husband and two daughters in Jakarta, Indonesia, on July 9, 2004. The family came to Japan on July 18, 2004.
Jenkins was court-martialed and incarcerated for desertion at a U.S. military installation in Japan for 26 days then released. They live on Sado Island in Soga's hometown where, according to media reports, the family has settled.
- Kirby, Michael Donald; Biserko, Sonja; Darusman, Marzuki (7 February 2014). "Report of the detailed findings of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea - A/HRC/25/CRP.1". United Nations Human Rights Council. pp. 299 (Paragraph 940–942). Archived from the original on Feb 27, 2014.
940. Ms Soga and her mother were abducted from Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, on their way home from shopping. The DPRK has acknowledged the abduction of Ms Soga Hitomi, but not that of her mother Mrs Soga Miyoshi. Ms Soga Hitomi was permitted to return to Japan in 2002 after the acknowledgment of her abduction. In the DPRK, Ms Soga Hitomi was married to Mr Charles Jenkins, one of the five US Army deserters who crossed over to the DPRK from their posts in the ROK voluntarily after the Korean War. Mr Jenkins - who deserted his post in the ROK in 1965 – reports having lived in close proximity to the three US nationals who crossed over to the DPRK before him, Mr Larry Allen Abshier (1962), Mr James Joseph Dresnock (1962) and Mr Jerry Wayne Parrish (1963). According to Mr Jenkins, the four were closely monitored and managed with their freedom of movement seriously constrained. The four unsuccessfully attempted to escape in 1966 by seeking asylum in the Russian Embassy, after which they were convinced there was no chance they could leave the DPRK. They had crossed voluntarily, but found themselves trapped in captivity. Mr Jenkins and the couple’s two daughters were able to reunite with Ms Soga in Japan in 2004. Ms Soga, who was only 19 at the time of her abduction, was detained at the same location as Ms Yokota Megumi during the first year after her arrival. Although the two were closely monitored and prevented from communicating in Japanese together, they became close.
- 10 years after, former abductees still trying to erase the horrors of North Korea, Asahi Shimbun, October 15, 2012
- Soga calls for abductees' return, Japan Times, October 8, 2012
- "Abductee Soga marks 5 years since return from North Korea, says she enjoys work". Mainichi Shimbun. October 17, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-18.[dead link]
- Mackinnon, Rabecca (November 7, 2002). "Japanese abductee caught in Cold War tug-of-love". CNN.
- staff (July 9, 2004). "Japan abductee meets family again". BBC News.
- Ressa, Maria (July 9, 2004). "A Cold War love story". CNN.