Travis King: What happened to the US soldier who defected to North Korea?


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Private Travis King is a U.S. soldier who ran into North Korea in July 2023.


Travis King crossed the Military Demarcation Line in the Joint Security Area (JSA) into North Korea on 18 July 2023 while on a civilian tour of the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).

At the time of the crossing, King was facing dishonourable discharge from the United States Army due to legal charges in South Korea, where he was stationed.

On 15 August 2023, the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s principal news outlet, verified King’s presence in the country, claiming that King unlawfully entered the country owing to “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the United States Army.”



KCNA added that King “expressed his willingness to seek refuge in the DPRK or a third country, saying that he was disillusioned at the unequal American society” .

North Korean official media stated on September 27, 2023, that King will be “expelled” and returned to American custody. Later that day, King was taken into US custody in the Chinese border city of Dandong and flown to a US military facility in South Korea, despite no demands from the North Korean authorities.

As of 4 August 2023, the US refuses to designate King as a prisoner of war due to his decision to enter into North Korea on his own accord while dressed as a civilian.



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