US National Crosses Over Into North Korea

US National Reportedly Taken Into Custody By North Korea

( – Technically, the Korean War never ended, but both sides signed a military armistice agreement in 1953. The truce established a cease-fire and created a demilitarized zone (DMZ) along the 38th parallel to serve as a buffer zone between North Korea (DPRK) and South Korea (RoK). Recent reports indicated that DPRK officials took a US national into custody near the western end of the DMZ in the Joint Security Area (JSA), the only portion of the zone where opposing forces stand face-to-face.

On July 18, the United Nations Command (UNC) announced that a US citizen accompanying a JSA tour group crossed the Military Demarcation Line, the land border between the two Koreas, into the DPRK. The notice said UN officials believed the unidentified individual was “currently in DPRK custody,” adding that the Command was working with its counterparts in the Korean People’s Army (KPA) to “resolve” the incident.

The UN established the UNC as a multinational military force to support the RoK during the Korean War. After the signing of the Korean Armistice, the Command “executes assigned functions” within the region to enforce the agreement and maintain stability and security in the Korean Peninsula.

An unnamed US official told CBS News that the individual who crossed the border was a United States service member being escorted by military officials back to the US from Camp Humphreys for disciplinary reasons. The soldier reportedly passed through airport security but exited the facility and joined a tour group.

A witness to the incident said the individual shouted out “ha ha ha” and ran “between some building.” They said authorities rushed the tour group to the Inter-Korean House of Freedom, one of the JSA’s main inter-Korean meeting places, where officials took their statements.

Reuters reported that the RoK’s daily newspaper, the Dong-a Ilbo, identified the fleeing individual as Private Second Class Travis King. However, a spokesperson for the UNC and the US Forces in Korea declined to confirm whether the person was a service member. He said that officials were still looking into the incident.

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