The United Nations Command reported on Tuesday that Travis King, an American citizen, was detained in North Korea after straying across the border into the communist nation while on a tour.
The UN Command in a statement said: “A US National on a JSA (Joint Security Area) orientation tour crossed, without authorization, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).”
Who is Travis King?
According to the South Korean army and the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper in South Korea, Travis King is a member of the US Army and holds the rank of private second class.
King reportedly crossed the border at around 3:27 p.m. local time while taking part in a tour to the Joint Security Area, the border hamlet in the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas. This area is manned by soldiers from both sides.
According to a witness who was in the same tour group as King, they had just finished exploring one of the JSA village’s structures when “this man [King] gives out a loud ‘Ha, ha, ha,’ and just runs in between some buildings.”
However, there are no immediate confirmed details about how or why the soldier crossed the strongly guarded border or whether the soldier was on duty. Even the four officials discussed the situation with The Associated Press on Tuesday under the condition of anonymity.
Although it is uncommon for Americans or South Koreans to defect to North Korea, more than 30,000 North Koreans have done so since the 1950–1953 Korean War to escape political repression and economic hardship.
According to the report, Travis is presently being held by North Korea, and the U.N. Command is coordinating with North Korean authorities to put an end to the situation.