US soldier Private Travis King “confessed” to illegally intruding on North Korean territory, state media KCNA reported citing the investigation, as the soldier turned at the last moment from the airport where he was to board a plane and return to the US.
The report is the first official release about the US soldier King who was detained in July after deliberately entering the nuclear-armed country during a border tour.
The media KCNA noted: “Travis King confessed that he had decided to come over to the [North Korea] as he harboured ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the US Army.”
“The soldier also expressed his willingness to seek refugee in the DPRK or a third country, saying that he was disillusioned at the unequal American society,” KCNA stated.
The 22-year-old soldier had been facing disciplinary action as he had been under detention for two months and was recently released after facing assault charges.
According to the reports quoted by People, King’s detention was the result of allegedly hitting a South Korean national in a club last September.
The reports indicated that apart from being in prison he was also directed to pay nearly $4,000 for allegedly damaging public property by kicking a police car and being uncooperative while he was being arrested, speaking ill of Koreans.
The People reported that King was released from the South Korean prison on July 10 and was left for the US to face further action.
However, King ran toward North Korea while on a civilian tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas.
United Nations Command said in late July that a national of the US is believed to be taken into custody after he entered North Korea without authorisation while on a visit to the border.
“A US national on a Joint Security Area [JSA] orientation tour crossed, without authorisation, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).”
A witness also told CBS News at that time that the soldier laughed before running in between some buildings towards North Korea.
“We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and are working with our KPA counterparts to resolve this incident,” it had added, referring to the North Korean People’s Army.
Since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice, the two countries remain technically at war, with a Demilitarized Zone running along the heavily-fortified border.