Travis King: US still trying to learn whereabouts of soldier detained in North Korea

Pyongyang has confirmed Pvt King is in custody

The truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone that divides North Korea and South Korea. AFP
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US was still trying to gain more information on the well-being and whereabouts of soldier Travis King, who has been detained in North Korea.

The UN Command, which oversees the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea, said Pyongyang had responded to their request regarding Pvt King. It said it would not go into more details so as to not interfere with efforts to bring Pvt King back to the US.

“I wish we did know more,” Mr Blinken said in an ABC News interview on Thursday.

“Just yesterday, finally, the North Koreans acknowledged that they’ve – understand we’re asking these questions. They haven’t given us responses.

“We’re trying by every reasonable means possible just to get that basic information, and then to see what we can do about bringing him home.”

Though North Korea had responded to requests for information for the first time, Washington said it was not a “substantive call”.

“It was a call to the UN Command at the demilitarised zone that came just in the last 48 hours. It was not a substantive call. It was an acknowledgement call,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

“The outreach that we have made to North Korea through diplomatic channels has still not been answered.”

Pvt King was in a South Korean jail for roughly two months on assault charges assault. He was supposed to return to the US on July 18 to face disciplinary proceedings, but joined a border tour after going through airport security.

The incident comes at a low point in relations between Pyongyang and Washington, as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for the development of nuclear warheads. Meanwhile, the US continues to enforce harsh sanctions on North Korea.

In previous instances in which an American has been detained in North Korea, Pyongyang only made a public announcement several weeks later.

Updated: August 04, 2023, 5:17 AM