North Korean authorities expelled Travis King, the US soldier who had crossed into the country from the South in July, Pyongyang’s state media reported on Wednesday.
According to the KCNA news agency, authorities finished questioning King, who had confessed to entering the country illegally because of his “ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination” in the US Army.
Later on Wednesday, US officials said King was in US custody.
“I can immediately confirm that Private Travis King is in US custody,” a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.
How did King flee to North Korea?
King, who has been a cavalry scout with the US Army since 2021, was serving in South Korea as part of his rotation.
Following assault charges over a conflict with locals, King spent 47 days at a Korean detention facility, from which he was released in July, US officials confirmed.
The 23-year-old private was set to face military disciplinary measures in Fort Bliss, Texas, but managed to escape his guards on the way back to the United States.
Dressed in civilian clothes, King joined a tourist group on their trip to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at the North Korean border. In the village of Panmunjom, which is split between North and South Korea, he crossed the border on July 18, according to Social Media reports of other members of the tour group.
What happened after he crossed the border?
Authorities in Pyongyang did not give any information on King’s whereabouts for several weeks after he crossed the border.
In August, they said he was being held and questioned about the circumstances of his entering the country.
North Korea subsequently stated King had admitted to illegally crossing the border and claimed he “was disillusioned at the unequal American society.”
The US said at the time they could not verify the reports and that it would “remain focused on his safe return.”