The American soldier who voluntarily defected to North Korea has been identified as Private 2nd Class Travis King, the US military said. Newsweek.
Army spokesman Bryce Dubee said Newsweek tuesday, this king has served as a cavalry scout in the regular army since January 2021, while receiving several awards, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, and the Ribbon of Overseas service.
Defense Department officials previously confirmed this Newsweek who had a US Army soldier “voluntarily and without authorization” crossed the military demarcation line that divides North and South Korea. King is believed to be in North Korean custody.
According to report from the Associated Press, King was recently released from a South Korean prison where he was being held for assault. The soldier also faces military disciplinary action in the US and was being escorted to an airport to be returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, when he left and crossed into North Korean territory to join a village tour border
US officials who spoke ABC News said King spent about a week at a US base in South Korea after being released from the detention center and was no longer in custody when he was escorted to the airport. According to the report, the military escort that had taken King to the airport was not necessary since he had finished serving his sentence, and there was no reason to expect that King would not be able to board his flight. An American official confirmed to ABC News that the soldier is 23 years old.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin He told reporters earlier Tuesday that he was “absolutely most concerned about the well-being of our troops,” adding that the Defense Department “will remain focused” on learning more about King’s condition.
King’s defection comes amid an escalation tensions between North Korea and the US due to US military cooperation with South Korea. Last week, North Korean officials claimed that a US aircraft had “illegally intruded” into their airspace “several times”, although South Korea’s military denied the allegations.
Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters last week that the US “as always remains committed to flying, navigating and operating safely and responsibly wherever international law allows and alongside our allies and partners” when asked about the accusations by Pyongyang officials.
“I have nothing more to say about these comments or threats coming from North Korea,” Singh added.