U.S. Soldier Travis King Released by North Korea

(LibertySons.org) – Private 2nd Class Travis T. King surprised onlookers on both sides of the Korean border when he bolted across the Demilitarized Zone to defect from the United States. Now, two months later, he’s back in American custody. The returned soldier is currently receiving medical care as well as support in returning to life outside the Korean prison.

King reportedly fled because he was frustrated over racism and discrimination both in the US Army and within the United States. But he had also been facing possible punishment over his conduct in South Korea, according to the Associated Press.

Korea Times states that he went on a rampage, spewing profanities about the locals and damaging a police car. The Army private had served two months for assault and had just been released on July 10 when the military planned to send him back to the United States to learn his fate. In addition to disciplinary action, he faced a potential dishonorable discharge.

Officials still aren’t sure how he did it, but King eluded his escort once he got past customs, somehow joining a tour group that went through a border village standing between North and South Korea. The soldier made a sudden, mad dash for North Korean territory, where he was taken into custody. The Pentagon classified him as absent without leave, or AWOL, rather than designate him a prisoner of war. North and South Korea never signed a peace treaty, with the 1950-1953 Korean War ending in an armistice, so the countries are still technically at war.

King’s fate had been uncertain initially after his attempted defection. Ultimately, according to Reuters, North Korea treated him as an illegal immigrant. The country eventually opted to expel him, declaring him “unfit” for use in propaganda. The Swedish government, in cooperation with China, helped orchestrate the young soldier’s return.

King now faces a potential court-martial, among other possible punishments resulting from his poor conduct.

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