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North Korea Claims U.S. Army Pvt. Travis King Crossed Border Into Country to Escape ‘Inhuman Maltreatment and Racial Discrimination’ In America

North Korea has finally acknowledged that U.S. Army Pvt. Travis King crossed the border from South Korea on July 18 while on a civilian tour of the Joint Security Area.

The North Korean government is claiming that the soldier crossed over to escape “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination” in the United States and is seeking refuge.

Reuters reports that officials from the U.S. believe that the 23-year-old crossed the North Korean border intentionally and have not classified him as a prisoner of war. As Atlanta Black Star previously noted, King joined the Army in 2021 before serving in the Korean Rotational Force, an alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States.

US Army Private Travis King
US Army Private Travis King crossed the North Korean border on July 18, 2023. (Photo: CBS News screenshot / YouTube)

King spent 47 days in a South Korean jail after being accused of assault. He pleaded guilty to one count of assault as well as to damaging a police car while cursing about Koreans. After completing his military detention, he was being transported back to the U.S. when he left the airport and joined a border tour before running across the border wearing civilian clothes.

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U.S. and South Korean guards tried to stop King, but they were unsuccessful. His civilian clothes reportedly disqualified him from being classified as a POW.

The Pentagon could not verify that King is willingly seeking refuge in North Korea, and a senior defense official told Fox News that they have had no contact with the soldier. The Korean Central News Agency claimed on Aug. 16 that King crossed the border to seek refuge from the “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.”

The KCNA also said that King illegally crossed the border with the intent of staying in North Korea or a third country.

“During the investigation, Travis King confessed that he had decided to come over to the DPRK as he harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army,” reports KCNA. “He also expressed his willingness to seek refuge in the DPRK or a third country, saying that he was disillusioned at the unequal American society.”

King’s mother, Claudine Gates, spoke to ABC News on Aug. 3 and said that she doesn’t believe that her son willingly crossed the border.

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

Gates added that she is living in a nightmare wondering about her son’s well-being, and King’s uncle, Myron Gates, said that his nephew’s messages became strange while he was incarcerated after he complained about racism during his military deployment in South Korea. He said he asked King, “You OK?”

“He was telling me, ‘No, they’re trying to kill me.’ And then he just continued to sing me songs and speak to me and saying things like, he said, ‘they’re racist.’ Other than that, it seemed like something was going on with him like he was fearing for his life.”

King’s mother added that shortly before her son crossed the border, she received a call from him at 3 a.m., and he yelled, “I’m not the Army soldier you want me to be. I’m not the Army soldier you want me to be.”

A spokesman for the family, Jonathan Franks, said that King’s mother knows about the report from KCNA and hopes that her son will be treated humanely.

“Ms. Gates is aware of today’s ‘report’ from KCNA,” said Franks. “DPRK authorities are responsible for Travis King’s well-being, and she continues to appeal to them to treat him humanely.”

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