The state-controlled media in closed-off North Korea reported that soldier Travis King had admitted to entering the country illegally because he wanted to escape “the inhumane abuse and racial discrimination in the US army”. King is disillusioned with the “unequal society” in the US and ready to seek refuge in North Korea or a third country, it said. He was arrested by the People’s Army and investigations are ongoing.
It cannot be verified whether Travis actually made the statements. The state media are considered the mouthpiece of the leadership around North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong Un, who sees the United States as a great enemy.
A spokesman for the Department of Defense in Washington said that efforts are still being made to ensure the man’s safe return to the United States.
According to the US armed forces in South Korea, King had taken part in a commercial sightseeing tour along the South Korean part of the so-called demilitarized zone in mid-July and then crossed the border to the communist north. At this point, the highly secured border between the two countries is only marked by a low concrete wall.
After being jailed in South Korea for a fight, King was originally scheduled to return to the United States under US supervision. But he sat down and joined the tour group.
se/gri (rtr, ap, dpa, afp)