North Korea expels Travis King, U.S. soldier who allegedly sought refuge there

a TV screen
A TV screen shows a file image of U.S. soldier Travis King during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday. North Korea said Wednesday that it was expelling King, who crossed into the country through the heavily armed border between the Koreas in July. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, South Korea — Travis King, a 23-year-old American soldier who crossed into North Korea in July, is back in U.S. custody now, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The announcement followed a report in North Korea’s state news agency earlier Wednesday saying the country would expel King. It said North Korean authorities had finished an investigation of King and claimed he had “confessed that he illegally intruded” into the country.

Later in the morning, The Associated Press reported that U.S. officials say King has been transferred to U.S. custody in China.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said that King, who is African American, was “disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society,” echoing earlier reports that King was open to seeking refuge in North Korea or a third country.

King’s uncle told ABC News in August that his nephew had experienced racism in the Army. King joined the Army in 2021 and was stationed in South Korea as a private second class and cavalry scout.

King had recently served in prison in South Korea for an assault and was due to return to a base at Fort Bliss, Texas, facing possible disciplinary action.

But King skipped his flight and joined a civilian tour of the Joint Security Area at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. He then bolted across the border, where he was quickly detained by North Korean authorities.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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