North Korea announced Wednesday that it will expel Travis King, the American soldier who crossed into the country two months earlier, according to the country’s state-run media. North Korea’s KCNA television network said King had confessed to illegally entering the country.
“The relevant agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] decided to expel Travis King, an American soldier who illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK, in accordance with the laws of the Republic,” the network reported.
It was not immediately clear when King might be deported from North Korea, or where the isolated nation would send him.
“The investigation into Travis King, a U.S. soldier who was detained after illegally invading the territory of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] from the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom on July 18, has been completed,” KCNA said in its report, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
King, a Private 2nd Class in the U.S. Army, entered North Korea while taking part in a guided tour of the border village of Panmunjom, which he joined after absconding from an airport in Seoul, South Korea, where he was supposed to have boarded a flight back to the U.S.
North Korea previously claimed that King had told investigators he crossed the border because he, “harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.”
The U.S. military said at the time that it could not verify those allegations.
The soldier had been scheduled to return to the U.S. after serving time at a South Korea detention facility for assaulting two people and kicking a police car while in the country. After parting ways from his U.S. military escort at the airport, King skipped his flight and joined the civilian tour of the border town, where he ran across into North Korea.
In an interview last month with The Associated Press, King’s mother, Claudine Gates, said her son had “so many reasons” to want to come home.
“I just can’t see him ever wanting to just stay in Korea when he has family in America. He has so many reasons to come home,” she said.
The soldier has served in the U.S. Army since January 2021 and had not been deployed for active duty, but was in south Korea as part of the Pentagon’s regular Korean Force Rotation.
King is likely to have proven “unsuitable for propaganda purposes” to North Korea, Professor Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean studies in Seoul told CBS News, because the soldier entered North Korea as a fugitive, making it “difficult” for the country’s authorities to deal with him.
Yang also told CBS News the decision to deport the soldier was likely made due to the U.S.’s lukewarm response to the incident.
CBS News’ Jen Kwon in Seoul contributed to this report.
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