The United States and North Korea, which fought during the Korean War of 1950-53, are still technically at war since that conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, and they have no diplomatic ties. Sweden has provided consular services for Americans in past cases, but Swedish diplomatic staff have reportedly not returned since North Korea ordered foreigners to leave the country at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miller said the State Department has contacted officials in South Korea and Sweden. Jeon Ha-kyu, a spokesman for South Korea’s defense ministry, said on Thursday that his ministry is sharing information with the US-led United Nations command in South Korea, without elaborating.
There are currently no known active talks between North Korea and the United States or South Korea.
King’s reason for crossing the border is unknown. A witness on the same tour he said he initially thought his run was some kind of stunt until he heard an American soldier on patrol yelling for others to try and stop him.
King’s family members he said the soldier may have felt overwhelmed by legal issues in South Korea that could lead to a discharge from the military.
King, 23, was serving in South Korea as a cavalry scout with the 1st Armored Division. He was released earlier this month from prison. In February, a Seoul court fined him 5 million won ($3,950) after convicting him of assaulting someone and damaging a police vehicle, according to a transcript of the verdict obtained by the Associated Press. The ruling said King had also been accused of punching a man in a Seoul nightclub, though the court rejected the charge because the victim did not want King punished.
King was escorted to the airport on Monday, but left before boarding the plane. It was unclear how he spent the hours between then and when he joined the Panmunjom tour on Tuesday. The Army realized he was missing when he didn’t get off his flight to Texas as planned.
North Korea has previously held a number of Americans who were arrested on anti-state, espionage and other charges. But no other Americans were known to be detained since North Korea expelled American Bruce Byron Lowrance in 2018. During the Cold War, small numbers of US soldiers who fled to North Korea later appeared in propaganda films north korean.
“North Korea will not ‘catch and release’ a border crosser. … However, the Kim regime has little incentive to detain an American citizen for long, as that can carry accountability,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
« For Pyongyang, it makes sense to find a way to get compensation and then deport an American for unauthorized entry into the country before an isolated incident escalates in ways that put North Korea’s diplomatic and financial interests at risk, » he said. .
Other experts say North Korea probably won’t hand King King back easily since he’s a soldier who apparently fled to North Korea voluntarily, although many previous American civilian detainees were released after the US sent high-profile missions to Pyongyang to secure their freedom.
King’s case comes as North Korea has stepped up its criticism of the United States for its recent moves to bolster its security commitment to South Korea. On the day of King’s border crossing, King’s The United States has deployed a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the first time in four decades. North Korea subsequently tested two missiles with the potential range to hit South Korea’s port if the United States. docked submarine.