US soldier flees to North Korea in recent disaster over nuclear-weapon state

  • The US navy believes a soldier is being held within the North
  • North Korea fires two ballistic missiles on Wednesday
  • Pyongyang state media has but to touch upon the US soldier
  • US troopers could possibly be used for anti-US propaganda – officers

PAJU, South Korea/WASHINGTON, July 19 (Reuters) – The U.S. navy was working to determine the destiny of a U.S. soldier who crossed the inter-Korean border with North Korea with out permission, throwing Washington into a brand new disaster in its relations with the nuclear-weapon State.

The U.S. Military recognized the soldier as Non-public Travis T. King who enlisted in 2021 and was being disciplined. Throughout an orientation go to to the Joint Safety Space (JSA) on the border between the 2 Koreas, King entered North Korea on Tuesday “voluntarily and with out permission”, mentioned US Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin.

“We imagine he’s in (North Korean) custody and are subsequently intently monitoring and investigating the scenario and dealing to inform the soldier’s family members,” Austin mentioned throughout a briefing.

North Korean state media made no point out of the incident. Its mission to the United Nations in New York didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

The crossing comes at a time of renewed rigidity on the Korean peninsula, with the arrival of a US nuclear ballistic missile submarine, and the early Wednesday check launch of two ballistic missiles into the ocean by North Korea. .

North Korea has been testing more and more highly effective missiles able to carrying nuclear warheads, together with a brand new solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile final week.

Colonel Isaac Taylor, spokesman for US Forces Korea, mentioned the navy was “working with our North Korean counterparts to resolve this incident”, referring to the North Korean Folks’s Military.

The United Nations Command (UNC), which oversees safety within the border space, used hotlines to speak with the North Koreans in regards to the incident, Taylor mentioned, however didn’t give particulars. .

“We talk with North Koreans each day,” he mentioned. “It is all a part of the armistice settlement.”


The soldier was visiting the truce village of Panmunjom with different guests when he crossed a navy demarcation line, in accordance with US officers. The closely defended border has separated the 2 Koreas for the reason that finish of the Korean Warfare in 1953 with an armistice.

US officers didn’t perceive why the soldier fled north and described a sequence of puzzling occasions.

King had accomplished his custodial sentence in South Korea for an unspecified offense and was transported by the US navy to the airport to return to his unique unit in the US, two US officers mentioned.

He had already handed by means of safety alone to his doorstep after which determined to flee, an official mentioned. Civilian excursions of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) are marketed on the airport and King seems to have determined to hitch one, an official mentioned.

The 2 US officers, who spoke on situation of anonymity, mentioned the soldier confronted disciplinary motion from the US navy. However he was not in custody when he determined to flee, one mentioned.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, mentioned all visits to Panmunjom had been canceled indefinitely on the request of the UN command. However Imjingak in Paju which marks the tip of the highway earlier than the military managed bridge resulting in the DMZ is crowded with vacationers.

It is unclear how lengthy North Korean authorities will maintain the soldier, however analysts mentioned the incident could possibly be useful propaganda for the remoted nation.

Earlier than daybreak on Wednesday, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles from an space close to its capital, Pyongyang, flying over 550 km and 600 km earlier than plunging into the ocean off its east coast.

The launch got here hours after South Korea and the US held the primary spherical of talks on bettering nuclear battle coordination with North Korea on Tuesday.

The US has pledged to deploy extra strategic property corresponding to plane carriers, submarines and long-range bombers to South Korea, prompting an indignant response from Pyongyang which has vowed to step up its personal navy response.

A former North Korean diplomat who defected to the South says King could possibly be a propaganda instrument for North Korea and a lack of face for the US on the day the submarine and weapons arrive. nuclear talks.

“However earlier circumstances of American servicemen who’ve gone to the North, holding an American solder might be not a really worthwhile headache for the North in the long term,” mentioned Tae Yong-ho, who’s a member of the South Korea. parliament.

Reporting by Josh Smith, Ju-min Park, Hyonhee Shin and Soo-hyang Choi in Seoul, David Brunnstrom, Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali in Washington, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Nobuhiro Kubo in Tokyo; Written by Jack Kim; Version by Lincoln Feast.

Our requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

Phil Stewart has reported from over 60 nations together with Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and South Sudan. An award-winning nationwide safety journalist primarily based in Washington, Phil has appeared on NPR, PBS NewsHour, Fox Information and different applications and hosted nationwide safety occasions together with the Reagan Nationwide Protection Discussion board and the German Marshall Fund. He’s the recipient of the Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence and the Joe Galloway Award.

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