US Soldier Detained In North Korea
By Jason Hall
July 18, 2023
The United States national detained in North Korea has been identified as Travis King, a U.S. Army soldier with the rank of private second class, according to the Dong-a Ilbo Daily, a South Korean newspaper which later redacted his name.
Two U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity confirmed King's identity and said he was due to face disciplinary action by the U.S. military prior to his detainment. Colonel Isaac Taylor, a spokesperson for the U.S. Armed Force in Korea, confirmed that an American soldier "wilfully and without authorization crossed the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)" on Tuesday (July 18).
The American was reported to have crossed the border from South Korea amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over the current state of the country's nuclear program. U.S. officials said they were continuing to gather information in what was described as a "fluid" incident.
The American-led United Nations Command had previously confirmed that a U.S. national had "crossed, without authorization, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" while on an orientation tour of the joint security area located in the zone between North Korea and South Korea.
"We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and are working with our KPA counterparts to resolve this incident," the UN Command Twitter account wrote.
A U.S. National on a JSA orientation tour crossed, without authorization, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and are working with our KPA counterparts to resolve this incident. pic.twitter.com/a6amvnJTuY— United Nations Command 유엔군사령부/유엔사 (@UN_Command) July 18, 2023
The United Nations holds tours of the area for staff members while visitors have also had access to tours organized by private companies since the 1960s. The reported detainment took place after the USS Kentucky, a nuclear-powered submarine, arrived at the Busan naval base in South Korea on Tuesday.
"This port visit to Busan reflects the United States’ ironclad commitment to the Republic of Korea for our extended deterrence guarantee," U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement obtained by NBC News.