US Soldier in North Korean Custody After Willfully Crossing DMZ Border

A US Army soldier who deliberately crossed the border from South Korea is reportedly in the custody of North Korea, according to a US military official. Army Colonel Isaac Taylor, a spokesperson for US forces in South Korea, stated that the soldier “willfully and without authorization crossed the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” and is believed to currently be held by North Korean authorities. Efforts are underway to resolve the incident with North Korea’s armed forces, known as the KPA.

The soldier, private second-class Travis King, crossed into North Korea whilst not in uniform during an “orientation tour” in the Joint Security Area (JSA), a zone separating North and South Korea. Previously, King had been disciplined for misconduct while serving in South Korea and was slated to return to the United States after having spent two months at a South Korea detention facility. However, he failed to board his scheduled flight after being taken to the airport by US military personnel.

Officials are trying to establish his current location and status, said a US official who chose to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation.

The JSA, an 800-meter-wide diplomatic buffer within the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas, is under the jurisdiction of the United Nations. It comprises several “Education and Orientation Program sites,” where people can learn about the Korean War and the subsequent armistice agreement. However, it is unclear whether the US soldier was visiting the area in question when detained.

In 2017, Washington imposed a travel ban to North Korea by US citizens following the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was detained there on charges of stealing a propaganda poster. Since there are no diplomatic or consular ties between America and North Korea, the US government is unable to provide emergency services to its citizens in North Korea.

Information for this story was found via Statistics Canada. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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