US Soldier Detained in North Korea

The news agency said that Private King had confessed to illegally entering North Korea because, it said, he “harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army and was disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society.”

North Korea did not immediately release details on its plans to deport Private King, including whether he would be sent back to South Korea through the Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea. Private King fled to the North through the DMZ.

 
The news agency said that Private King had confessed to illegally entering North Korea because, it said, he “harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army and was disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society.”

North Korea did not immediately release details on its plans to deport Private King, including whether he would be sent back to South Korea through the Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea. Private King fled to the North through the DMZ.

Not that I doubt Private King has confessed to these ill feelings or that his feelings are true (as he clearly didn't want to return to the United States, whatever his reasons), BUT... North Korea would report that he was disillusioned with the United States no matter what he said. For that reason alone, I'll never take North Korea at their word on anything.

The people of the DPRK think about the Korean War constantly and view U.S. troops on the border as symbols of the disgusting brainwashing and enslavement of the impoverished and unlucky South Koreans. The reunification of Korea is always described as freeing the South from capitalism and oppression or helping them escape the almighty grasp of the U.S. The entire country is fully enmeshed in this type of propaganda and has been for their entire life. I'm sure North Korea is more than pleased to use the desperation of this young man to stoke their fire.



I thought I'd share another interesting piece from the book Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim.

Instead of a lesson on sources, which was not possible there, I asked that they read a simple essay from 1997 that quoted President Bill Clinton on how important it was to make all schools wired. The counterparts had approved it because it related to our current textbook theme of college education. I hoped that they would grasp the significance of the Internet and how behind they were. I also gave them four recent articles—from the Princeton Review, the New York Times, the Financial Times, and Harvard Magazine—that mentioned Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, and Twitter. None of the pieces evoked a response. Not even the sentence about Zuckerberg earning $100 billion from something he dreamed up in his college dorm seemed to interest them. It was possible that they viewed the reading as lies. Or perhaps the capitalist angle repelled them.

The next day, several students stopped by during office hours. They all wanted to change their essay topics. Curiously, the new topics they proposed all had to do with the ills of American society. One said he wanted to write about corporal punishment in American and Japanese middle schools. Another wanted to argue that the American government’s policy of deciding a baby’s future based on IQ tests should be forbidden. A third student wanted to write about the evils of allowing people to own guns so freely in America. A fourth student said biofuel was toxic and America was the biggest producer of it. A fifth wanted to change his topic to divorce. There was no divorce in the DPRK, but in America the rate was more than 50 percent, and divorce led to crime and mental illness, according to him. “So what happens when people are unhappy here after being married for a while?” I asked. The student looked at me blankly. Still another student wanted to write about how McDonald’s was horrible. The same student then asked me, “So what kind of food does McDonald’s make?”

Their collective decision to switch their essay topics to condemn America seemed to have been compelled by the articles about Zuckerberg. What I had intended as inspirational, they must have viewed as boasting and felt slighted. The nationalism that had been instilled in them for so many generations had produced a citizenry whose ego was so fragile that they refused to acknowledge the rest of the world.

My efforts to expand their awareness kept backfiring. Almost half the students claimed that kimchi was the most famous food in the world, and that all other nations were envious of it. One student wrote that the American government had named it the official food of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. When I questioned him, he said everyone knew this fact and that he could even prove it since his Korean textbook said so. A quick Internet search revealed that a Japanese manufacturer had claimed that kimchi was a Japanese dish and proposed it as an official Olympic food but had been denied. Somehow this news item had been relayed to them in twisted form and was now treated as general knowledge.

They asked what kinds of food I ate other than rice and naengmyun, their national dish. I couldn’t exactly go on about fresh fruit smoothies and eggs Benedict, so I named two Western dishes I knew they had heard of: spaghetti and hot dogs. I knew that North Koreans enjoyed their own version of sausage because I had seen them lining up for it at the International Trade Fair. One of the students then wrote in his kimjang homework, “Those Koreans who prefer hot dogs and spaghetti over kimchi bring shame on their motherland by forgetting the superiority of kimchi.”​
 
He is now in American custody.

 

Something from the New York Times article on this event I thought was very unexpected and interesting:

“A senior administration official said President Biden, who had been briefed on the efforts to secure Private King’s release, made no concessions to North Korea.

“The answer is simple: There were none. Full stop,” the official said.”

I can’t be the only one here who imagined that the North Koreans may have found themselves in a position similar to the kidnappers in this classic piece of American literature:

 
It will be interesting to see what happens to him now. I would think he should be court-marshalled on a desertion charge, serve a bit of time in military prison and then dishonorable discharge. But we will see.
IMO it will be more than a"a bit", there are two sets of incidents. The first prior to desertion was already heading to court martial, and now desertion.
 

"U.S. officials have secured the return of Private Travis King from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “We appreciate the dedication of the interagency team that has worked tirelessly out of concern for Private King’s wellbeing."
One official, who was not authorized to comment and requested anonymity, said the North Koreans may have decided that
King was more trouble to keep than to simply release him.
And there remain unanswered questions about the episode, including why King went to North Korea in the first place. His fate also remains uncertain, having been declared AWOL by the U.S. government. That can mean punishment by time in military jail, forfeiture of pay or a dishonorable discharge.

Red bolding mine.
Hmmm....

This unexpected early release IS good news for his family !
I'm certain they're thankful and relieved.

Imo; he needs to face at least some consequences, including part of what was listed in the last sentence -- of the article I've quoted ?

He had better be grateful !!!!
The fact that he is currently serving in the military makes this release quite extraordinary.
It could've been that NK would be even more suspicious of him.
Again my opinion only.

This could have turned into an Otto Warmbier case !

Although tbh, I never thought that Otto had any intelligence information of value to the North Koreans.
I will always have questions about what they did to him. :(
Iirc, there was no autopsy ?


American soldier Travis King is 'in good health and spirits' in US custody and on a plane out of China after North Korea expelled him two months following his 'defection'

Red emphasis mine.
Travis is super lucky.
I hope he understands this.

Omo.
 
Last edited:
IMO it will be more than a"a bit", there are two sets of incidents. The first prior to desertion was already heading to court martial, and now desertion.
I hope you are right, but I'm not too certain. We know very little about the original accusation about him. But the desertion is pretty clear cut. I'm just not too confidant in the military/US being really tough. Leniency is the name of the game in the military justice system for some time now. We might see a hefty prosecution (it is military though so its not as open to the public) and hefty sentence. But then before long a quiet commutation and release.
 
On Wednesday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that authorities had finished their questioning of King. It said that he confessed to illegally entering the North because he harbored “ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination” within the U.S. Army and was “disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society.”
Lavender emphasis mine.

This really does not sound like sentiments Travis would say. :rolleyes:

"...Unequal U.S. society..." ??

Not that he hasn't experienced racism, but just the way it's worded.
Sounds like propaganda.
Omo.
 

Something from the New York Times article on this event I thought was very unexpected and interesting:

“A senior administration official said President Biden, who had been briefed on the efforts to secure Private King’s release, made no concessions to North Korea.

“The answer is simple: There were none. Full stop,” the official said.”

I can’t be the only one here who imagined that the North Koreans may have found themselves in a position similar to the kidnappers in this classic piece of American literature:

Bolding mine.
That's very good news.

Omo.

I almost forgot about that little tale from O. Henry.
Too funny ! :D
 
I'm guessing the ROK Army and intelligence folks would like to know how he went from being escorted to Kimpo airport by the US Army and then ended up walking across the border at Panmunjom. Actually, I'm sure the answers are already known and highly embarrassing to all of the above.
 
Was he so problematic that even the North Koreans didn’t want him?
Well maybe it's just clear that the US isn't going to beg for his release when he willingly and knowingly went out of his way to not return to the US to face the consequences for his actions. He instead took actions to get to the border crossing and then even with it being guarded.. he makes a run for it. I think if this was a prisoner of war or someone that was allowed in their country, they could make up any number of crimes those people committed and keep them for propaganda reasons. When someone is running into their country what good is it to keep them and claim they committed a crime? They can instead "deport" him and somehow come out looking good to the world while the US looks like the bad guy that has servicemembers trying to run into North Korea to avoid facing disciplinary action.

I have close ties to the military and I have very little sympathy for this young man. There is any number of things he could have done to avoid returning to the US and the very last one and worst of all would be to try to run into North Korea. It is the one option that had the potential to harm his brothers and sisters in arms. North Korea is volatile and no doubt he knew exactly what he was dealing with. You don't get sent to South Korea and NOT know what is on the other side of that border. It's made clear to them. I do feel for his family.
 
Can we send him back?
Ikr ?
Yeah, that's not going to happen ... lucky for Travis. :rolleyes:

Considering his despicable behavior towards the locals in SK, not to mention I'm curious what his earlier conduct was during-- and before -- the military ?


But I believe a good long time behind bars will give him time to think about his actions.
Travis King should be grateful literally for the rest of his life; to be living in a nation where they rescued him, even though he deserted, and (allegedly) badmouthed the country of his origin ... and have past charges pending !
Omo.
 
Ikr ?
Yeah, that's not going to happen ... lucky for Travis. :rolleyes:

Considering his despicable behavior towards the locals in SK, not to mention I'm curious what his earlier conduct was during-- and before -- the military ?


But I believe a good long time behind bars will give him time to think about his actions.
Travis King should be grateful literally for the rest of his life; to be living in a nation where they rescued him, even though he deserted, and (allegedly) badmouthed the country of his origin ... and have past charges pending !
Omo.
I agree he should be grateful. As curious as I normally am about details, I really don't give a rip about this guy, but I am curious about his experience in North Korea. What happened? But anything before or after, I honestly don't care.

jmo
 

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