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N. Korea decides to expel US soldier Travis King

Sept. 27, 2023 - 19:12 By Yonhap
A man walks past a television showing a news broadcast featuring a photo of US soldier Travis King, who ran across the border into North Korea while part of a tour group visiting the Demilitarized Zone on South Korea's border on July 18. (AFP/Yonhap)

North Korea has decided to expel Travis King, a US soldier who has been detained after "illegally intruding" into the country by running across the inter-Korean border in July, state media said Wednesday.

Pvt. King made an unauthorized crossing of the Military Demarcation Line into the North during a tour to the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas on July 18.

"The relevant organ of the DPRK decided to expel Travis King, a soldier of the U.S. Army who illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK, under the law of the Republic," the North's official Korean Central News Agency, citing the final findings of an investigation into King. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

It did not provide further details on when and how King will be expelled.

The KCNA said King was "disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society" and crossed the border due to "inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army," reiterating the North's interim results of its investigation into King last month.

The North confirmed King's detention for the first time on Aug. 16 and claimed the U.S. soldier expressed willingness to seek refuge in the North or a third country.

Shortly after the North's first confirmation of King's detention, the U.S. Department of Defense said the alleged comments by King cannot be verified and that it is focused on bringing him back home.

Observers have said Pyongyang could seek to use King for its propaganda efforts or as a bargaining chip to demand concessions from Washington as dialogue between the two sides has remained at a standstill since 2019.

King has faced legal trouble after being stationed in South Korea. He was detained in a South Korean prison workshop from May 24 to July 10 after failing to pay a fine for damaging a police patrol car last year.

On Oct. 8, South Korean police apprehended King for suspected violence at a nightclub in western Seoul. He reportedly did not cooperate with police officers demanding his personal information and kicked the door of their vehicle.

King had been set to return to the United States on July 17, where he could have faced additional disciplinary action, but he did not board his flight at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, and took part in the JSA tour the next day.