The United Nations Command’s deputy commander revealed Monday the command began discussing the case of Travis King with North Korea, according to a Reuters report.

U.S. Army private Travis King entered N. Korea July 18 after he made a mad dash across the Demilitarized Zone’s border separating North and South Korea. Hostilities between the two warring nations is paused by an armistice.

The U.N. Command is the U.S.-led entity that oversees the Korean War truce. It had guards at the border when a group that included Pvt. King toured the area last week. The unarmed guards were caught unaware by his run.

King was scheduled to fly from S. Korea to face disciplinary action upon arrival at Fort Hood, Texas, but he joined a tour group at the airfield headed for the DMZ instead. Early reports speculated the soldier planned to defect.

The UNC and North Korea’s military conversations were initiated and conducted through a mechanism established under the Korean War armistice, Lieutenant General Andrew Harrison said.

Harrison is a British Army officer serving as deputy commander of the multinational force.

“The primary concern for us is Private King’s welfare,” Harrison explained during a media briefing. The deputy commander declined to provide further detail about UNC’s contact with N. Korea.

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“The conversation has commenced with the KPA through the mechanisms of the Armistice agreement,” Harrison said, referring to the North’s Korean People’s Army. “I can’t say anything that could prejudice that process.”

North Korea’s state media, in a break from past communications about detained U.S. nationals, has remained silent about King.

The soldier’s sprint to the reclusive communist-run country happened at a tough time, as relations between it and S. Korea soured after a U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarine docked in S. Korea last week.

North Korea responded to what leaders there called “provoking” by conducting a ballistic missile test within hours after the the USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) docked at South Korea’s Busan Naval Base.

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