US military scrambles to determine fate of soldier who fled to North Korea

The US military become scrambling on Wednesday to decide the destiny of an American soldier who made an unauthorised crossing of the inter-Korean border into North Korea, throwing Washington into a brand new crisis in its dealing with the nuclear-armed country.

The US Army identified the soldier as Private Travis T. King who joined in 2021 and became going through disciplinary action.

While on an orientation excursion of Joint Security Area (JSA) on the border between the two Koreas, King crossed into North Korea on Tuesday “wilfully and without authorization,” US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

“We believe that he is in (North Korean) custody and so we are intently tracking and investigating the situation and working to notify the soldier’s next of relatives,” Austin told a briefing.

North Korea’s state media has made no mention of the incident. Its mission to the United Nations in New York did no longer right away reply to requests for comment.The crossing comes at a time of renewed tension at the Korean peninsula, with the appearance on Tuesday of a US nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine, and the take a look at release early on Wednesday of ballistic missiles into the sea by using North Korea.

The brief-range missiles have been fired from a place near its capital, Pyongyang, flying 550 km and six hundred km before plunging into the ocean off its east coast, South Korea’s army stated.

North Korea has been checking out an increasing number of powerful missiles able to wearing nuclear warheads, which includes a new strong-gas intercontinental ballistic missile remaining week.

The UN Command (UNC), which oversees safety for the border vicinity, had communicated over a hotline with the North Koreans approximately america soldier, a spokesperson for US Forces Korea stated.

The US military become “working with our KPA opposite numbers to resolve this incident,” Colonel Isaac Taylor said, referring to North Korea’s People’s Army.

“We speak with the North Koreans every unmarried day,” he said. “It’s all a part of the armistice agreement.”The soldier turned into on a excursion of the Panmunjom truce village when he crossed the Military Demarcation Line that has separated the two Koreas because the Korean War resulted in 1953 with an armistice, US officials stated.

His motive isn’t always known. While based totally in South Korea, he faced accusations of attack and damaging a police car in an October incident. He pled responsible and became sentenced in February to a quality, a court file visible by way of Reuters confirmed.

King had completed serving in military detention and was transported by using the United States army to the airport to go back to his home unit within the United States, US officials said.

He had passed on my own via protection to his gate and then fled, one legitimate said. Civilian tours of the demilitarised quarter (DMZ) are marketed at the airport and King appeared to have decided to enroll in one, an official stated.

The US officials, who spoke on circumstance of anonymity, stated the soldier were due to face disciplinary movement by using the United States military. It changed into now not clear if that changed into related to the October incident.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles ties with the North, stated all excursions to Panmunjom were cancelled indefinitely at the UN Command’s request. But Imjingak in Paju, which marks the cease of the street earlier than the navy-controlled bridge main into the DMZ, become bustling with travelers.

It was uncertain how long North Korean government would maintain the soldier however analysts stated the incident could be valuable propaganda for the isolated country.

The border incident passed off as senior South Korean and US officials held the first round of talks on Tuesday on upgrading coordination inside the event of a nuclear war with North Korea.

The United States has pledged to install more strategic assets which include aircraft carriers, submarines and long-variety bombers to South Korea, drawing an indignant response from Pyongyang which vowed to strengthen its very own reaction.

A former North Korean diplomat who defected to the South stated King may be a propaganda device for North Korea and a lack of face for the USA on the day of the arrival of the submarine and the nuclear talks.

“But looking at preceding instances of US servicemen who went into the North, protecting an American soldier is probably a not very value-effective headache for the North in the end,” said Tae Yong-ho, who is a member of South Korea’s parliament.

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