‘He Would’ve Wanted To Come Home’: Sister of US Army Private Travis King Who Crossed Border Into North Korea Says He Would Not ‘Just Disappear’

The sister of Travis King, the US Army Private who crossed the border into North Korea, said that he is not the type of person “to just disappear” in a new interview. 

Jaqueda Gates made the comments on CNN’s “Primetime” on Wednesday night, emphasizing that she feels “the story is deeper than that.” 

Last month, King crossed the border while on a guided tour of the Demilitarized Zone, the tourist hotspot which separates North and South Korea, the WioNews reported. The 23-year-old cavalry scout enrolled in the army in 2021 and served in the Korean Rotational Force.

Mother of US Army Private Who Crossed Border Into North Korea Says He Would Not ‘Just Disappear’
Travis King, a U.S. soldier ran across the military demarcation line into North Korea on July 18, 2023. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/NBC News)

While in South Korea, he was accused of assault and had to do time in a detention facility for about two months, according to reports. When he was released, he was set to return to the US, and was escorted to the airport. However, as CNN reported, he ditched his flight, decided to go on the group tour at the Joint Security Area instead, and defected to North Korea.

King’s incident comes amid bubbling tension between the US and North Korea. King’s family said they have not been in touch with the White House, with his uncle, Myron Gates telling CNN that they “wish they would come to our house to talk to us and let us know something.”

As Reuters reported on Tuesday, North Korea responded to the United Nations Command’s requests for information relating to King’s whereabouts since the July 18 incident, per Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, but did not give much intel.

“I can confirm that the DPRK has responded to United Nations Command, but I don’t have any substantial progress to read out,” Ryder said at a press conference this week, according to the report. 

Per AFP, the United Nations Command also confirmed communication with North Korea on Thursday but said “in order not to interfere with our efforts to get him home, we will not go into details at this time.”

Speaking to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” King’s mother shared her emotional battle since she found out her son was in custody in North Korea. 

“I can’t function. I can’t think straight. It feels like I’m in a big nightmare,” Claudine Gates said, adding, “Once nighttime comes, I start worrying more because I don’t know what they’re doing to him.”

Gates continued: “That’s not Travis. Travis would not go over the border like that. He’s the type of kid, he would’ve wanted to come home. He knew just across that border is basically … committing suicide.”

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