According to a statement released by Colonel Isaac Taylor, a spokesman for U.S. forces in South Korea, the cavalry scout who enlisted in January 2021 was visiting the truce village of Panmunjom on an orientation tour when he was detained by North Korean soldiers as soon as Private King ran across the border. The tour guides chased after the soldier but were unable to stop him.
The U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters at the Pentagon during a news briefing that the American soldier "willfully and without authorization" crossed the border into the North Korean territory, adding the U.S. is foremost concerned about the welfare of its troop.
According to the U.S. defense ministry, Private King was punished for misconduct while serving in South Korea and was to be sent home. It is unknown why the soldier did not get on the plane that was supposed to take him home and participated in the group tour at the Joint Security Area (JSA).
Private King was the first American to be held in North Korean custody since Bruce Byron Lowrance, an American who slipped into North Korea from the border with China in 2018. Lowrance was deported from South Korea a year before because he was caught for walking around in a border area filled with mines.
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