On July 18, according to the statement released by the Pentagon, US soldier Travis King, age 23, entered North Korea “voluntarily and without authorization” while taking a tour of the Joint Security Area (JSA), which is situated on the international border between Pyongyang and Seoul.
According to the UN Command, North Korea’s initial reaction to inquiries for insights concerning the whereabouts and current location of the US soldier was to affirm custody of Travis King.
The UN Command declared it would withhold any further information for the time being regarding Pyongyang’s (the capital of North Korea) responses.
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UN command stated to the media that it “did not intend on interfering with the attempts of bringing Travis King back to his home”.
The response, though, suggests Pyongyang might be prepared to begin talks and negotiations regarding the same.
Notably, the North Koreans have acknowledged the request before, but this is the very first occasion they have replied and confirmed that the US soldier is in their possession.
Who Is This US Soldier, Travis King?
Travis King, a Private 2nd Class (PV2), was imprisoned in South Korea for two months prior to crossing the border on allegations of assault. The 10th of July saw his release.
Despite being scheduled to return to the US to face disciplinary action, he managed to escape airport security and sign up for the DMZ trip.
He was stationed in the Republic of South Korea as part of his rotations as a reconnaissance expert who had been part of the army ever since January 2021.
For Joe Biden, the president of the United States, the soldier’s detention is a genuine foreign policy concern.
The Feud Between North and South Korea
One of the most strongly defended locations in the world, the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) divides North and South Korea.
This zone is covered with landmines, electric and barbed wire fencing, and monitored round the clock using surveillance cameras. Armed security guards are on duty here 24/7.
The DMZ has split the two countries ever since the Korean War in the 1950s, when the US supported the South side.
The two sides are still officially at war. Tens of thousands of US soldiers are still stationed in the South Korean borders.
Although the North Koreans do not always answer, the military of South Korea and the UN Command, which is in charge of the border region, both have active phone lines to the army of North Korea. They call each other every day to make sure everything is okay.
What is Expected to Happen?
It happens quite rarely that US citizens or soldiers or South Koreans fled to North Korea, but since the end of the Korean War, more than 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea to escape political repression and economic hardship.
Several Americans who infiltrated North Korean land illegally in recent years have been freed within a matter of six months or so, barring those who were found guilty of crimes there. The sole American detained by North Korea at the moment is thought to be PV2 King. More than five South Koreans are still being held captive in North Korea.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin responded to questions regarding the incident by saying, “There’s a lot that we’re still trying to learn.”
He added, “We are almost sure that he is in North Korean custody, so we’re constantly tracking and monitoring the current circumstances as well as attempting to notify Private 2nd Class (PV2) Travis King’s next of kin.