North Korea says it plans to release a United States service member who has been detained for nearly two months after running across the border.
Official state media said authorities have completed their questioning of Army Pvt. Travis King and have decided to "expel" him from the country. It remains unclear when authorities plan to expel him or to where.
King, who had served in South Korea, crossed through the demilitarized zone in July while on a civilian tour of an inter-Korean truce village, becoming the first American to be detained by North Korea in nearly five years. At the time, King was supposed to be returning to the U.S. to face military disciplinary action after being released from a South Korean prison where he was detained for an assault conviction.
North Korean officials claim King confessed to illegally crossing into the country because of discrimination and mistreatment in the U.S. Army. The North also said he was "disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society."
It remains to be seen whether U.S. officials can verify the authenticity of those claims, but the Pentagon said it is appreciative of all those involved in securing King's release.
"U.S. officials have secured the return of Private Travis King from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)," said Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier Gen. Patrick Ryder. "We appreciate the hard work of personnel in the Army, United States Forces Korea, and across the Department of Defense to bring Private King home, and we thank the governments of Sweden and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for their assistance.”
The White House has not yet commented on the news of King's release.
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