US soldier Travis King, who had crossed into North Korea in July, has been returned to American custody after being expelled by Pyongyang. The 23-year-old, who had been stationed in South Korea as part of a unit rotation, illegally entered North Korea, citing reasons of “inhuman treatment” and racism within the US military as his motivation for fleeing.
Details regarding his condition during his time in North Korea and the specifics of his confinement remain undisclosed. North Korea’s state-run news agency announced its decision to deport Pte King without providing further information on the matter.
Before entering North Korea, Pte King had spent two months in detention in South Korea due to assault charges. He was released on July 10 and was scheduled to return to the US for disciplinary proceedings. However, he managed to evade authorities at the airport and joined a tour of the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, eventually crossing into North Korea.
It remains uncertain whether Pte King will face additional charges related to his unauthorized entry into North Korea. No immediate comments have been issued by the US Department of State, the White House, or the Department of Defense. A spokesperson for the King family stated that they do not expect to provide substantial comments at this time.
Travis King’s family has previously asserted that he experienced discrimination during his military service and that his mental health deteriorated during his months in South Korean custody.
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Compared to previous cases involving Americans detained in North Korea, Pte King’s release after 71 days is relatively swift. In an interview with the Associated Press, his mother, Claudine Gates, expressed her belief that her son had numerous reasons to return to the United States, emphasizing his strong ties to his family.
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