North Korea has claimed that a U.S. soldier who crossed the border last month did so due to seeking asylum from what they described as “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination” in the United States.
The remarks, disseminated through state media on Wednesday, mark Pyongyang’s initial public declaration regarding Travis King. King crossed the border from South Korea into North Korea on July 18 while participating in a tourist tour of the Joint Security Area (JSA), which serves as a demarcation point between the two nations.
North Korea said that King confessed to crossing the border illegally, with the intent to stay in North Korea or in a third country.
“Travis King admitted during the inquiry that he chose to cross into the DPRK due to his resentment towards the inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army,” reported the state news agency KCNA, employing the acronym for North Korea’s formal name. “He also conveyed his intent to seek asylum in the DPRK or another third country, citing his disillusionment with the unequal nature of American society.”
KCNA said the 23-year-old soldier was “kept under control by soldiers of the Korean People’s Army” after his crossing and the investigation continues.
The border between the two Koreas is heavily fortified but at the JSA, the frontier is marked only by a low concrete divider and is relatively easy to cross, despite the presence of soldiers on both sides.