Private 2nd Class Travis King entered North Korea “willfully and without authorization” and is presumed to be in the hands of North Korean troops.
Initially, the news that an unnamed U.S. national had crossed the border between North and South Korea came from the United Nations Command, which manages the Joint Security Area within the Demilitarized Zone.
U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, the nerve center of U.S. troops in South Korea, received King approximately a week ago after serving in a military prison facility there. He arrived back at the airport, went through security, and then joined a tour group crossing the border into North Korea.
Before joining the U.S. Army in January 2021, King spent roughly two months in a South Korean jail on assault charges.
One of the world’s most militarized frontiers is the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea. The two Koreas are still officially at war since the Korean War concluded in an armistice rather than a peace treaty in 1953. Since then, the United States has kept a sizable military presence in South Korea.
The isolated Kim Jong Un dictatorship in North Korea and the United States, along with America’s critical Asian allies South Korea and Japan, have been at odds with one other for the better of a decade. A new nuclear test by North Korea would be a significant escalation of what the West sees as Kim’s provocations, and officials in the United States have made it plain that they anticipate this to happen at any time.
The USS Kentucky, a nuclear-powered submarine, arrived at a South Korean port on Tuesday, the same day as the border incident. Even though the visit had been disclosed in advance, North Korea was sure to label it as another American provocation because it was the first time a U.S. nuclear submarine had visited South Korea in four decades.
According to South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-Sup, the submarine’s arrival demonstrated Washington’s resolve to “extend deterrence” against the danger presented by North Korea.