What we know about Travis King, the U.S. soldier who crossed into North Korea

U.S. soldier Pvt. 2nd Class Travis King, who recently crossed into North Korea from South Korea, is now believed to be in the custody of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Profile: King, a 23-year-old cavalry scout with the U.S. Army, has been serving since January 2021.
* Recently, he had been held in a prison in South Korea on charges of assault before being released to U.S. officials about a week ago.
* Prior to crossing to North Korea, he was being transported to an airport to board a plane for Fort Bliss, Texas, to face military disciplinary action.

The escape: King managed to evade his escort at the airport and made his way to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.
* Dressed in civilian clothes, he joined a tour of the Korean border village, and according to a now-deleted Facebook post from a tour member, ran into North Korea.

Current situation: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed concern for King’s welfare at a Tuesday press conference.
* Claudine Gates, King’s mother, expressed shock and told ABC News that she hopes her son returns to America.
* No official word has been received from North Korea about King.

Speculation: Questions remain about whether King’s entrance to North Korea was planned or spontaneous.
* Jacco Zwetsloot, host of the North Korea News podcast, argues that a trip to the Demilitarized Zone usually requires days of planning and advanced submission of credentials.

Implications: King’s detention could pose a diplomatic challenge for the U.S., which does not have formal diplomatic relations with North Korea.
* NPR’s Greg Myre suggests North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un may seek to use the incident for political gain.
* Several U.S. citizens have been detained by North Korea over the years, including Bruce Byron Lowrance in 2018 and Otto Warmbier in 2016.

View original article on NPR

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