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North Korea says US soldier admits to illegally entering – DW – 08/15/2023

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North Korea on Wednesday said a US soldier who had crossed into the country last month has admitted to illegally entering the North.

Private Travis King expressed a willingness to seek refuge in the North or a third country, state media KCNA reported, saying that he “was disillusioned at the unequal American society.”

According to the state media reports, Pyongyang said the US soldier confessed to crossing into the North because of “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the US Army.”

First official comment from North

It is the first public acknowledgement of the incident by North Korea.

The soldier entered into the North on July 18 while on a civilian tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the heavily fortified border between the North and South.

North Korea said its investigation into King would continue.

US soldier crosses inter-Korean border into North Korea

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How has the US responded?

A spokesperson for the Pentagon said that the US could not verify the comments reported by North Korean state media.

The US Department of Defense said it remains focused on King’s safety and his return home.

“We remain focused on his safe return. The department’s priority is to bring Private King home, and that we are working through all available channels to achieve that outcome,” a Pentagon spokesperson said, according to Reuters news agency.

How did he end up in North Korea?

After a drunken pub brawl, an incident with police and a stay in a South Korean jail, King was being taken to the airport to fly back to Texas, when he broke free.

Instead of traveling to Fort Bliss for disciplinary hearings, King joined a DMZ sightseeing trip and crossed over the border in mid-July.

He is the first US citizen in five years to be detained in North Korea .

jsi/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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