By James Meyers
9:40 AM – Wednesday, September 27, 2023
The North Korean government released a U.S. Army soldier after holding him in detainment for over two months.
On Wednesday, U.S. Army Pvt. Travis King was returned to U.S. custody in Mainland China following months of imprisonment, according to North Korean state outlets and the U.S. National Security Council.
With King being given back to the United States his fate now remains uncertain, having been declared AWOL by the U.S. government. The repercussions could be time in military jail, forfeiture of pay or a dishonorable discharge.
“The relevant organ of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] decided to expel Travis King, a soldier of the U.S. Army who illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK, under the law of the Republic,” state media outlet Korean Central News Agency wrote early Wednesday, according to translations provided by Yonhap News Agency.
Pentagon Spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder confirmed the release of King.
“U.S. officials have secured the return of Private Travis King from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” he said.
He added, “We appreciate the hard work of personnel in the Army, United States Forces Korea, and across the Department of Defense to bring Private King home, and we thank the governments of Sweden and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for their assistance.”
King was detained by North Korean authorities on July 18th, when he reportedly sprinted away from a tour group into the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.
The detainment happened after King finished a two month sentencing in a South Korean detention facility after he had a physical altercation with locals, a senior defense official told Fox News on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a North Korean Central News Agency reported that authorities had finished their questioning of King.
“During the investigation, Travis King confessed that he had decided to come over to the DPRK as he harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army,” KCNA reported. “He also expressed his willingness to seek refuge in the DPRK or a third country, saying that he was disillusioned at the unequal American society.”
King’s mother has denied the allegations by North Korea, claiming her son had no motivation to cross into the country illegally.
He became the first American confirmed to be detained in North Korea in almost five years.