US Army soldier Travis King can reportedly be seen in this photo on a tour of the Joint Security Area in the village of Panmunjom before he crossed the border into North Korea.
AP photo/Sarah Leslie
Pyongyang claims the US soldier who ran into North Korea in July was angry with racism and society.
Travis King, a US Army private, ran across the DMZ on July 18, shocking authorities and his family.
King was reported to be facing disciplinary action in the US before he joined a tour to the border.
North Korea on Tuesday finally acknowledged the US soldier who unexpectedly ran into its territory in July, with the communist state claiming that he’d felt “disillusioned” with an “unequal American society.”
Travis King, a private in the US Army, dashed across the border from South Korea while on a civilian tour of the Joint Security Area on July 18.
King was detained by North Korean troops and investigated, North Korean propaganda and state media arm KCNA wrote.
The outlet claimed that King told investigators he crossed the border because he “harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the US Army,” per a translation by North Korea tracker KCNAWatch.
He also told investigators that he wished to seek refuge in North Korea or another country, and was “disillusioned at the unequal American society,” KCNA claimed.
North Korean propaganda has often attacked the US as a country of low moral standards and unchecked crime, with one of its top foreign delegates on Tuesday calling America an “anti-people empire of evils.”
The announcement comes after the US Defense Department repeatedly tried to contact Pyongyang over King’s status but received no official response.
Before he crossed the border, King was accused of punching a man, insulting the South Korean army, and damaging a police car in 2022, Reuters reported. While the punching case was settled, King admitted to public damages charges, the outlet reported.
Separately, he was held in a South Korean jail for almost two months on assault charges before being released on July 10, the Associated Press also reported.
He was in the process of being brought back to the US for disciplinary action when he joined the civilian tour and ran into North Korea, per the outlet.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had described King’s crossing into North Korea as done “willfully and without authorization.”
Meanwhile, King’s mother, Claudine Gates, said she was shocked to hear that King had run into North Korea.
“I can’t see Travis doing anything like that,” she told ABC News.
The US Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside regular business hours.