American soldier Travis King escaped from the airport to North Korea. That could spell trouble for Joe Biden.
North Korea is known as the most closed country in the world. The defectors say they had to swim several kilometres. Or they made desperate attempts to jump over the border fence.
But on Tuesday, another strange border crossing occurred. And the escape of 23-year-old American soldier Travis King was not outside North Korea, but inside it.
The timing was not ideal for US President Joe Biden.
Run away from the airport
Other US soldiers were accompanying King to Incheon Airport, South Korea.
He had just been released from prison. Over the past year, he has been accused of, among other things, subversion and violence in South Korea. Among other things, he was fined for smashing a police car. Displays documents such as Reuters opinion.
Now he was to be repatriated to the United States.
But it didn’t work out that way. The 23-year-old ran away and joined a tour group that visited Panmunjom. It is located on the border with North Korea within the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two countries.
American Colonel Isaac Taylor gave a sober account of what happened next to the British newspaper The Independent:
– Taylor said that a US soldier who toured the Joint Security Area chose, without permission, to cross the military dividing line into North Korea.
– We believe he is being held in North Korea, and we are working with our counterparts in the North Korean military to resolve the situation.
Witnesses to the accident gave more detailed accounts of what happened.
he shouted “ha ha”
Among the Swedish tour group is Michaela Johansson, who wrote about what she saw on Facebook. The post has been republished on the International News website NK news:
– To our right, we hear a loud Ha-Ha. Johansson wrote that one of the men from our group, who had been with us all day, got between two buildings and to the other side.
Then the tour group was ordered back to the bus until it arrived.
Another witness confirmed the story CBS News.
What happens now with Travis King? He is among the few Americans arrested in North Korea in recent decades. In the past, it had tragic results.
It is believed that North Korea killed her son
One of the most famous examples is the young student Otto Warmbier. In 2016, he was arrested for stealing a promotional poster from a hotel.
Pictures from the trial, in which Warmbier tearfully begs for forgiveness, caused an uproar. So did the referee. 15 years of forced labor.
What happened next is still unclear. In June 2017, the 22-year-old was sent home to his family in the US in a coma. he died shortly thereafter.
North Korea says Warmbier died after falling ill and being given a sleeping pill. American doctors believe he suffered a brain injury. The family says he was tortured to death in regime captivity.
Travis King’s mother, Claudine Gates, told the American television channel ABC that she was shocked when she heard that her son had fled to North Korea.
– I can’t imagine Travis would do such a thing, she said.
– I just want him to come home.
North Korea experts believe it is difficult to predict what might happen to King. It is also unclear what this might mean for the United States and President Joe Biden. But the timing may not be ideal for the president.
Cooperation in the field of nuclear deterrence
The United States and North Korea do not currently have a diplomatic dialogue. At the same time, North Korea has launched dozens of missiles in recent years.
On the same day that Travis King fled across the border, the United States and South Korea held the first meeting of the Nuclear Consultation Group (NCG) in the South Korean capital, Seoul.
There is a new cooperation forum where the United States and South Korea will work together to achieve stronger deterrence with nuclear weapons, according to White House.
For the first time in 40 years, an American nuclear submarine is also visiting South Korea. The USS Kentucky is equipped with cruise missiles. It can also be equipped with nuclear weapons.
The King incident distracts from these important meetings that are supposed to build confidence that the United States is fulfilling its obligations to South Korea regarding security.
This is what North Korea experts Ellen Kim and Andy Lim write at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). They dare not say whether this will lead to dialogue between the United States and North Korea.
However, the sister of North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo Jong, who herself has become a powerful political figure, rejected the US attempt at dialogue.
– We do not conflict with our interests. Kim Yo Jong said that the United States knows very well that North Korea has no interest in dialogue. KCNA.
But, writes Travis King, it may influence the rating BBC:
– The soldier could become a new bargaining chip that North Korea can use when dealing with the United States.
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