A soldier who decided to try his luck in North Korea because of the way he was treated in the Army is back in U.S. custody. Seems he wasn’t valuable enough for Kim Jong Un to hold onto. Here’s the full story.
There Was an Incident
In July, the United States Army detained Private 2nd Class Travis King for assaulting two people and a police car while stationed in South Korea.
He Would Face the Music
At the end of his local sentence, King was scheduled to head back to the United States, where his military fate would be decided.
They Parted Ways
As per usual Army protocol, military personnel escorted King to an airport in Seoul and then went on their merry way.
Turns out, that’s what King did, too.
A Big Outing
While waiting for his flight, King noticed a group of civilians heading out for a guided foot tour of Panmunjom, a village near the North Korean border.
Blending in With the Crowd
Not quite ready to head back to the U.S., King slipped into the group and headed out on the town with them.
A Run for…Freedom?
Then, when the group neared the border, King took an even bolder step – he dashed across the border into North Korea.
Gone in an Instant
It was little surprise that North Korean officials were quick to apprehend him.
Not only is the communist country pretty much closed off to visitors and secretive about their activities, but King was a compelling prize.
A Valuable Commodity
What could be better leverage to use against the United States than having one of their own soldiers in custody?
Not an Army Fan
The North Korean propaganda machine fired up right away, and early reports said that King told investigators he didn’t want to go back to the States because of the way the Army treated him.
According to a CBS News report, a North Korean spokesperson said that King “harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.”
Not Much Hoopla
The military has yet to speak on those allegations, and the King story has kind of faded into the woodwork over the last couple of months.
Lack of Urgency
According to Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at the University of North Korea, the lack of uproar over King’s dash to North Korea and the U.S. government’s lack of urgency might have led to his release.
Not Good for Propaganda
Yang thinks that, while North Korea may have had designs on using King’s capture for political gain, they ultimately deemed him “”unsuitable for propaganda purposes.”
Open for Debate
Whether that was the U.S. government’s plan all along, or whether they felt King was not in imminent danger and turned their attention to more pressing matters is open for debate.
But what’s certain at this point is that King is back in U.S. custody.
There to Greet Him
Earlier in the week, North Korea transferred the soldier to China. He was met by U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns in Dandong.
Off to Who Knows Where
From there, King was to board a plane headed for the United States, scheduled to land at an undisclosed military base.
No Deal at Play
According to U.S. officials, King seems healthy and happy to be headed back, though they also insist the United States made no concessions to arrange his return.
Nowhere to Run
How happy King remains once he faces whatever military music awaits him on U.S. soil is yet to be seen, but at least he can’t make a break for North Korea this time around.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Astrelok. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.