North Korea Keeps the World Guessing About US Soldier’s Fate

( – US Army Private Travis King fled South Korea for North Korea on Tuesday, July 18. American authorities are now investigating what happened more fully, as North Korea’s continuing silence raises questions about what exactly is happening with King and why he went to the communist nation.

King was reportedly on his way back to the United States to face punishment in a fighting charge related to a brawl he participated in at a Seoul bar, but managed to get away from his flight at the last minute and sneak over the North Korean border while taking part in an official tour of the UN-run demilitarized zone (DMZ).

US officials say they believe the communist dictatorship might try to leverage King in order to get concessions out of the Biden administration. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that King clearly crossed over to North Korea “willfully” but that there is still “a lot” that US officials are trying to “learn” about why King ran away and what North Korea is doing with him. The United States has no official diplomatic relationship with North Korea but is running a backchannel to communicate with it via Sweden and South Korean officials.

King enlisted in the US Army in 2021 and had a history of bad behavior including beating up a South Korean man in a nightclub on September 25 of 2022, and kicking a police car while swearing at South Korean police officers in October of 2022. King’s mother Claudine Gates said that the escape into North Korea did not sound like something her son would ever do, but King’s uncle said that a family tragedy earlier in the year had hit King especially hard.

According to King’s uncle Carl, his son (King’s nephew) died of a rare genetic disorder earlier this year, which he noticed corresponded with King starting to act more “crazy” and “reckless.” Carl says he feels sure that the tragic death is related to King’s outbursts and his decision to take this drastic action.

North Korea has made no comment on the situation nor have they confirmed that they hold King.

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