The deputy commander of the U.N. Command said Monday it has started conversations with North Korea over an American soldier who crossed the heavily armed border of the Koreas last Tuesday.
Pvt. Travis King’s crossing comes at a time of high tension in the Korean peninsula, with North Korea’s weapons demonstrations and a second nuclear-propelled U.S. submarine’s arrival to a South Korean port.
North Korea has remained silent about Pvt. King, who was supposed to be heading to Fort Bliss following his release from a South Korean prison on an assault conviction.
Analysts believe North Korea may wait weeks or even months to provide meaningful information about King to maximize leverage and add urgency to U.S. efforts to secure his release. Some say North Korea may try to wrest concessions from Washington, such as tying his release to the United States cutting back its military activities with South Korea.
More about Travis King
Travis King is a 23-year-old U.S. Army Private 2nd Class who has been a cavalry scout in the U.S. Army since January 2021.
South Korean media reported that King allegedly punched someone in the face repeatedly while drinking at a club in Seoul last September. He also allegedly kicked and broke the door of a police patrol car that was sent to the scene of a reported assault in Seoul last October, according to South Korean media.
King’s mother, Claudine Gates, who lives in Racine, Wisconsin, said she was shocked when she heard her son had crossed into North Korea.
“I can’t see Travis doing anything like that,” Gates said in an interview on July 18.