A U.S. Army soldier has crossed into North Korea and is believed to be in that country’s custody, according to The Washington Post.
The U.N. Command, which controls the area, announced early Tuesday that an American national had crossed over into North Korea during a tour of the Joint Security Area (JSA) which is a half-mile area within the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea at Panmunjom.
The Post reported that the person detained is a U.S. Army soldier, according to one of two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the matter’s sensitivity.
Soldier identified, according to report
Update 6:05 p.m. EDT July 18: The soldier was identified as Pvt. Travis T. King, The New York Times reported. King had recently been released from a South Korean prison after being arrested on assault charges, according to the newspaper, which cited a U.S. official “familiar with the situation” who was not authorized to speak on the record.
King was scheduled to return to Fort Bliss, Texas, to face additional military disciplinary actions, the Times reported.
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Original report: One of the officials said the soldier was scheduled on a recent flight to the United States but did not get on the plane.
“This was a deliberate decision on the part of the service member to cross the DMZ,” the official said.
The Associated Press also reported that the person who crossed the border was an American soldier, as did South Korea’s Dong-a Ilbo daily, citing South Korea’s army, identified the person as a U.S. Army soldier, according to Reuters. However, the news organization said it could not independently verify the identity of the person.
Dong-a Ilbo reported the person is a private in the U.S. Army.
Col. Isaac Taylor, the spokesperson for the U.S. military in South Korea (USFK) and the U.N. Command, declined to confirm whether the individual was a U.S. Army soldier, saying he had nothing to add to the UNC statement, Reuters wrote.
According to Fox News, the soldier was dressed in civilian clothing and was on a tour of the DMZ.
“A U.S. National on a JSA orientation tour crossed, without authorization, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and are working with our KPA counterparts to resolve this incident.”
The U.N. Command operates the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, said Tuesday.
“A U.S. National on a JSA orientation tour crossed, without authorization, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” the U.N. Command said in a tweet posted in both English and Korean.
“We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and are working with our KPA counterparts to resolve this incident,” the tweet said.
The U.N. Command has given no further details on the person’s identity or why he crossed the border. It is believed the man was on a tour of the area when he crossed the border, according to CNN.
According to the AP, the U.S. earlier on Tuesday sent a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the first time in decades as deterrence against North Korea’s recent launch of missiles aimed toward the south.
North Korea fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week, Japanese and South Korean officials reported. The long-range missile flew for more than an hour before landing short of Japanese waters.
Check back for more on this developing story.
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