STORY: North Korea says Travis King, the U.S. Army private who dashed across the border from South Korea last month – wants refuge from racism and mistreatment in the US either in the North or in another country.
This is the first time Pyongyang has publicly confirmed King crossed over the heavily guarded demilitarized zone on July 17.
The North’s official state news agency KCNA posted on its website that during an investigation, “Travis King confessed that he had decided to come over to the DPRK as he harbored ill feeling against inhumane maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.”
“He also expressed his willingness to seek refuge in the DPRK or a third country, saying that he felt disillusioned with the unequal American society.”
DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
KCNA also said King was “kept under control by soldiers” in North Korea, and that the investigation they mentioned is still active.
U.S. officials believe King crossed the border intentionally – while on a civilian tour of the Joint Security Area between the two Koreas – and have declined so far to call him a prisoner of war.
U.S. officials also say the North has not provided substantive responses to their queries on King.
The Pentagon said it could not verify the North’s version of King’s comments as KCNA had reported them and said it remains focused on his safe return.
King previously faced two allegations of assault in South Korea… pleading guilty to one of those allegations… as well as damaging a police car during a profanity-laced tirade against Koreans, according to court documents.
After finishing military detention in South Korea, King was taken to the airport to return to his home unit in the United States.
He was supposed to face more disciplinary measures upon arrival.
But instead, King left the airport, joined a tour of the border, and crossed the DMZ despite attempts by South Korean and U.S. guards to stop him.