North Korea announced on Wednesday that it has decided “to expel” US Army Private Travis King, who crossed into the North from South Korea while on a tour of the joint security area in July, according to state media KCNA.
“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,” KCNA said. According to the outlet’s report, the investigation into King “has been finished” and as a result, he will be expelled. The report did not mention the time, place, and manner of King’s expulsion.
Why is Travis King being expelled from North Korea?
During a tour of the Joint Security Area inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) back in July, King, a junior enlisted soldier assigned to US Forces Korea, crossed over from the military demarcation line from South Korea into North Korea.
Just a day before doing so, he had faced assault charges in South Korea. He had been ordered to be removed from the military and was due to fly back to Fort Bliss, Texas.
North Korea claimed on Wednesday that King has “confessed that he illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK as he harbored ill feelings against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. army and was disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society.”
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said last month that it “would not be out of character” for North Korea to use US soldier Travis King as a bargaining chip to get the US to negotiate on diplomatic issues between the two countries.
“They certainly could. … We haven’t seen any indication that that’s exactly what’s afoot here, but certainly would not be out of character for them,” Kirby told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.” “What we’re focused on is trying to make sure we can get information about him.”
At the time Kirby added at that time that King’s location was unclear. There was also little information about “the conditions he’s being held” and information about his health.