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Home » North Korea releases U.S. soldier Travis King back into American custody

North Korea releases U.S. soldier Travis King back into American custody

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North Korea releases U.S. soldier Travis King back into American custody

North Korea releases U.S. soldier Travis King back into American custody
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The U.S. has secured the release of Travis King, the young American soldier who crossed the border on foot from South Korea into North Korea in July.  U.S. ally Sweden and rival China helped with the transfer; and King was back in U.S. custody Wednesday, U.S. officials confirmed. Biden administration officials insisted they provided no concessions to North Korea to secure the soldier’s release.

King, a Private 2nd Class in the U.S. Army, has served in the military since January 2021. He has not been deployed for active duty but was in South Korea as part of the Pentagon’s regular Korean Force Rotation. He ran into North Korea while on a civilian tour of the border village of Panmunjom on July 18, becoming the first American confirmed to be detained in the North in nearly five years. At the time he crossed the border, King was supposed to be heading to Fort Bliss, Texas, after serving time at a South Korea detention facility for assaulting two people and kicking a police car while in the country. North Korea previously claimed that King had told investigators he crossed the border because he, “harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.”

North Korea announced that it would expel King, saying he had confessed to entering the country illegally. Swedish officials took King to the Chinese border, where he was met by the U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, the Swedish ambassador to China, and at least one U.S. Defense Department official. U.S. officials say that King appeared to be in “good health and good spirits as he makes his way home,” and that he was also “very happy” to be coming back. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement: “U.S. officials have secured the return of Private Travis King from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” and also thanked “the government of Sweden for its diplomatic role serving as the protecting power for the United States in the DPRK and the government of the People’s Republic of China for its assistance in facilitating the transit of Private King.” Officials said they did not know exactly why North Korea decided to expel King, but suspected Pyongyang determined that as a low-ranking serviceman he had no real value in terms of either leverage or information.

King was flown to a U.S. military base in South Korea before being returned to the U.S. The soldier was to be taken to Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in Texas when he arrived, and after arriving on the Texas military installation he is expected to undergo psychological assessments and debriefings, as well as get a chance to meet with family.

Editorial credit: rawf8 /