North Korea confirmed on Wednesday that a US soldier who defected across the heavily armed Korean border last month did so after becoming disillusioned with the inequality of American society and racial discrimination in its military.
He was North Korea’s first official confirmation of the soldier’s arrest. Travis King, who served in South Korea and sprinted to the North while on a civilian tour in a Border Village on July 18th. He became the first American confirmed arrested in the North in nearly five years.
The official Korean Central News Agency, citing an investigation by the relevant North Korean authorities, reported that King told them that he decided to enter North Korea because he “held ill feelings against the inhumane mistreatment and racial discrimination within the US military.”
The report said King also expressed willingness to seek refuge in North Korea or a third country, saying he was “disillusioned with the unequal American society.”
The KCNA is a propaganda outlet and its content is carefully tuned to reflect North Korea’s official line that the United States is an evil adversary.
The North Korean investigation into King’s “illegal” entry will continue, the report said. It is impossible to verify the authenticity of comments attributed to King in North Korean state media.
The United States, South Korea and other countries North Korea has been accused of using foreign detainees to extract diplomatic privileges. some foreign detainees They said after their release that their statements of guilt while detained in North Korea were made under duress.
A US Defense Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the US had no way of verifying North Korea’s claims about King. The official said the Pentagon is working through all available channels to bring King back to the United States
This is 100% North Korean propaganda in its element. “King, as a U.S. citizen held in North Korea, has no influence over how (North Korea) chooses to tell its narrative,” said Sue Kim, an expert at Virginia-based LMI Consulting and a former CIA analyst.
As for King’s release, his fate is in North Korean hands. Perhaps the regime will try to “bargain” King’s life in return for financial concessions from the United States. Most likely, the negotiations will not be easy, and Pyongyang will dictate the terms.
The soldier’s family said his mother, Claudine Gates, is pleading with North Korea to treat her son humanely.
“She is a worried mother for her son and would appreciate receiving a phone call from him,” family spokesman Jonathan Franks said in the statement. “Finally, she was in contact with the Army this evening and appreciates the (Defense Department) statement that it remains focused on bringing Travis home.”
Tae Yongho, who was a minister at the North Korean embassy in London before his defection in 2016, speculated that North Korea might eventually release King because it did not immediately express its intentions to accept King as a refugee in the North and talked about a third country. Resettlement. Tae, now a South Korean lawmaker, also cited North Korea’s characterization of the king as an illegal incomer, rather than someone who “voluntarily” entered the North.
Tae said earlier that North Korea would be reluctant to keep a low-ranking soldier like King for a long time because he would not provide it with high-level US intelligence and would require high costs and resources to manage his life.
Some analysts said North Korea may be trying to tie King’s release to the United States reducing its military activities with South Korea amid escalating hostilities between the two wartime foes.
North Korea has conducted more than 100 weapons tests since the start of last year, many in the name of issuing warnings about expanding US-South Korean military exercises it sees as a rehearsal for invasion. Next Monday, the allies are set to begin their annual major maneuvers, which North Korea sees as a rehearsal for invasion.