US military counterintelligence is investigating the defection of Private Travis King to North Korea, a Pentagon deputy said on Thursday. The US expressed concerns about Private, pointing out that Pyongyang has a history of mistreatment of captured Americans.
Military counterintelligence is investigating the defection of U.S. Army Private Travis King to North Korea, a deputy spokeswoman said on Thursday Pentagon Sabrina Singh.
However, she stated that the administration USA does not know if this was a planned move with the Pyongyang regime.
Singh said the investigation is being conducted by Ground Forces counterintelligence along with U.S. forces in South Korea. However, she admitted that the motives of King, who had previously spent 50 days in a South Korean prison for beating up another person in a club in Seoul, are still unknown.
An American soldier escaped to North Korea
Singh said King was due to return to the US, where he faced disciplinary “administrative proceedings”. He was already at the airport in Incheon, but did not board the plane.
Instead, he later went on a trip to the Panmunjom Demilitarized Zone and defected to the side of North Korea. According to CNN, he was “hurriedly put into a van and taken away by North Korean guards.”
Singh said she had no information on whether the soldier’s escape was coordinated with the Pyongyang regime. She added that the US authorities do not know where King is now and what condition he is in.
“Our biggest concern with Private King is that we want to take him back home and we are trying to do everything we can in that direction,” Singh said.
Concerns about the fate of an American in North Korea
Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the Army, had previously expressed concern about the soldier’s fate. She stated that King “may not have been thinking clearly” about what he was doing and expressed concern about how he would be treated by the North Korean regime.
She pointed to the prisoner as an example American Otto Warmbierwho was handed over to US authorities in a comatose state and died shortly thereafter.
“Honestly, I’m worried about him. I am very concerned that Private King is in the hands of the North Korean authorities. I fear how they might treat him,” said Wormuth.
The American station CBS News spoke to a witness of the event, who was on the same trip as the American. He reported that before the man ran between the buildings towards the North Korean border, he laughed out loud. – At first I thought it was a bad joke. However, when he did not return, I realized that he did not, ”said the witness.
Main photo source: KYODO NEWS POOL/PAP