US soldier who fled to North Korea expelled, back in US to undergo medical evaluations

He crossed into North Korea in July.

Brenda Khoo | September 29, 2023, 12:52 PM



North Korea expelled a U.S. soldier after he fled South Korea into North Korea.

According to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea's state news agency, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) decided to expel Travis T. King on Sep. 27.

King, 23, was detained in the DPRK after illegally crossing over from South Korea into North Korea in July.

He has since arrived back home in the U.S., according to CNN.

Reuters cited a Pentagon spokesperson, who said that King will undergo "medical screenings, medical evaluations, and then he'll be meeting with professionals to assess his emotional and mental health".

The escape

On Jul. 18, King crossed the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) into North Korea while saying "HA-HA-HA", according to a Facebook post seen by NK News.

He was on a civilian group tour to the Panmunjom border village when he entered the reclusive country.

Prior to the tour, King spent about 50 days in a detention facility in South Korea on assault charges, according to CNN.

The BBC reported that he was due to fly home to Texas to face possible further military disciplinary action.

King was taken to the airport in South Korea and was escorted to customs. However, instead of boarding the plane, he managed to escape from the airport, said CNN.

According to KCNA, King said he made the illegal intrusion because he "harboured ill will against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. army". He also claimed to be "disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society".

The road home

King was transferred from North Korea to China, Reuters reported.

The U.S. secured his return by coordinating with the governments of Sweden and China, according to a U.S. State Department press release.

Sweden was involved by acting as the "U.S. protecting power in North Korea" and sent word to the U.S. that Pyongyang wanted to release King, according to CNN.

Top photo from Tomoyuki Mizuta via Pixabay

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