US soldier crosses border into North Korea, believed to be in DPRK custody, United Nations says
The U.N. organizes tours inside of the Demilitarized Zone for the general public.
A U.S. soldier is believed to be detained by North Korean authorities on Tuesday after crossing the Military Demarcation Line into the country while on a tour of the Joint Security Area, according to the United Nations Command, which oversees affairs on the Korean Peninsula.
The person, who has not been publicly identified, is a U.S. Army soldier who had been facing disciplinary action before fleeing into North Korea, officials told multiple media outlets on the condition of anonymity.
"A U.S. National on a JSA orientation tour crossed, without authorization, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and are working with our KPA counterparts to resolve this incident," the U.N. agency tweeted about the incident early Tuesday morning.
Multiple outlets have named the soldier as Private 2nd Class Travis King, citing anonymous sources. King had been held in South Korean prison on assault charges and was facing further disciplinary actions from the military in the United States.
"I thought it was a bad joke at first, but when he didn't come back, I realized it wasn't a joke, and then everybody reacted and things got crazy," one witness told CBS News.
The U.N. organizes tours inside the Demilitarized Zone for the general public. The State Department imposed a travel ban to North Korea for U.S. nationals in 2017 after the death of American student Otto Warmbier.