North Korea gives first response over US soldier

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Travis King US soldiers who crossed border to North KoreaReuters

North Korea has confirmed custody of Travis King in its first response to requests for information on the US soldier’s whereabouts, the UN Command has said.

The 23-year-old private dashed across the border from South Korea on 18 July while on a guided tour.

The UN Command said it would not give more details about Pyongyang’s response at this time.

It said it “did not want to interfere with the efforts to bring him home”.

However, the reply indicates Pyongyang could be ready to start negotiating.

The UN Command, which polices the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), had sought information on Pvt King using its direct phone line to the North Korean Army in the Joint Security Area.

The North Koreans had previously acknowledged the request, but this is the first time they have responded, confirming the US solider is in their custody.

North Korea has not publicly acknowledged custody of Pvt King.

Before he crossed the border, Pvt King served two months in prison in South Korea for assault charges. He was released on 10 July.

He was supposed to fly back to the US to face disciplinary proceedings, but managed to give leave the airport and join the DMZ tour.

He is a reconnaissance specialist who had been in the army since January 2021 and was in South Korea as part of his rotation.

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