North Korea says it has decided to expel Travis King, the U.S. soldier who fled to the totalitarian East Asian nation during a border tour in July, without saying where he will be sent.
According to the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), King had confessed to entering North Korea illegally “because of inhumane treatment by the US military, aversion to racism and disillusionment with unequal US society.”
“The relevant authority in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has decided to deport US soldier Travis King, who illegally entered the territory of the Republic, in accordance with the laws of the Republic,” it said.
The 23-year-old fled to North Korea on July 18 by crossing the border as part of an organized trip to the DMZ. He reportedly giggled with laughter as he ran away from his tour group and from pursuing guards. After being found guilty of assault at a nightclub in South Korea, he was expected to return to the United States and face disciplinary action.
North Korea remained silent about the soldier’s actions for almost a month until KCNA reported that the 23-year-old soldier “admitted” to “illegally entering the DPRK.” It said King crossed the border because “he harbored an aversion to inhumane abuse and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.”
The report continued: “He also expressed his willingness to seek refuge in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or a third country and said he was disillusioned with unequal American society.”
This last line in the KCNA report led to speculation that King could be deported from North Korea to a friendly country, which basically means Russia or China.
Seoul-based website NK News posted in a Report last week that North Korea in recent years has tended to kick out Americans who try to stay in the DPRK and might do the same for King.
“By saying that King was willing to travel to a ‘third country,’ North Korea indicated that it might send him on the trip at some point,” it said.
But it added: “North Korea could lose face if it returns someone who allegedly claims to be a victim of racism to the feared US imperialists.” Sending King to a third country would allow Pyongyang to assert the moral high ground while the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could still wash its hands of him.”