A U.S. soldier, Travis King, fled to North Korea last month citing racism and abuse within the U.S. military according to North Korean statement.
The key details: North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, stated King admitted to illegally entering North Korea, driven by “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army”.
* King was previously arrested last October and convicted in South Korea for assaulting a citizen, damaging police vehicles and verbally abusing officers while intoxicated.
* Following his military service with the U.S. Army in 2021 as a private 2nd class and cavalry scout, King was expected to return to his unit in the U.S., but instead joined a tour of the demilitarized zone and crossed the border into North Korea.
History check: Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, a few U.S. soldiers have crossed into North Korea, occasionally becoming fodder for North Korean Propaganda.
* North Korea often highlights concerns over racism and inequality in the U.S. in an effort to defend its own human rights record against international scrutiny.
Diplomatic constraints: The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and therefore cannot access Kingconsularly.
* The Swedish Embassy used to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in North Korea, but most foreign diplomats left Pyongyang during COVID and have not yet returned.
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