North Korea says US soldier Travis King wants refuge from Army 'mistreatment'

Pentagon says it cannot confirm comments reported by state media

People watch a news report on missing US soldier Pte Travis King at a station in Seoul, South Korea, on July 22. EPA
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North Korea said that Travis King confessed to crossing into the country because of “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the US Army”, state media reported on Wednesday.

It was the first public acknowledgement of the incident by Pyongyang.

Pte Travis King, dashed into the North while on a civilian tour of the Joint Security Area on the heavily fortified border between the two Koreas.

US officials have said they believe Pte King crossed the border intentionally.

North Korean investigators have also now concluded that he crossed deliberately and illegally, with the intent to stay there or in a third country, state news agency KCNA said.

“During the investigation, Travis King confessed that he had decided to come over to the DPRK as he harboured ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the US Army,” KCNA reported, using the initials of North Korea's official name.

“He also expressed his willingness to seek refugee in the DPRK or a third country, saying that he was disillusioned at the unequal American society.”

The Pentagon on Tuesday said it could not verify the comments claimed to have been made by Pte King, but that Washington remained focused on his safe return.

“The department’s priority is to bring Pte King home, and that we are working through all available channels to achieve that outcome,” a Pentagon representative said.

US soldier crosses into North Korea

US soldier crosses into North Korea
Updated: August 15, 2023, 11:54 PM