Answer: US military struggles to determine fate of soldier who fled to North Korea – Times of India

Washington: The US military was struggling on Wednesday to determine the fate of an American soldier who unauthorizedly crossed the inter-Korean border. Answer Korea, along with the nuclear-armed state, is plunging Washington into a new crisis. Private Travis T King was facing disciplinary action. On an orientation tour at the border between the two Koreas, King “intentionally and without permission” crossed into North Korea on Tuesday, the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin Said. “We believe he is in (North Korean) custody,” Austin told in a briefing.
The official media of North Korea has not made any mention of this incident. Its mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The crossing comes at a time of renewed tensions on the Korean peninsula, including the arrival of a US nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine on Tuesday and North Korea’s test launch of two ballistic missiles into the sea early Wednesday.
A spokesman for US Forces Korea said the UN command had spoken on the hotline with the North Koreans about the US soldier. “It is all part of the ceasefire agreement,” he said. The soldier was visiting the Panmunjom truce village when he crossed the military demarcation line separating the two Koreas. His motive is not known. While in South Korea, he was charged in October with assault and damaging a police car. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a fine.
Officials said King had completed his service in military custody and was escorted by the US military to the airport to return to his home unit in the US. He walked alone through the security cordon to his gate and then fled. Civilian tours of the demilitarized zone are advertised at the airport and it appears King has decided to attend, an official said. The incident occurred as South Korean and US officials were holding the first round of talks to upgrade coordination in the event of a nuclear war with North Korea.