North Korea issued its first response in connection with the detainment of the U.S. army soldier who intentionally crossed into the East Asian nation over two weeks ago. As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, the United Nations and U.S. officials said 23-year-old Pvt. Travis King entered one of the world’s most secretive countries “without authorization” during a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Per New York Post, the United Nations command said North Korea has since “responded to the United Nations Command with regards to PV2 King.” The command, however, said it would not “go into details at this time” in order “not to interfere with our efforts to get him home.”
The Department of Defense Press Secretary, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, also confirmed Pyongyang had responded to the United Nations Command with regard to details about King – though no further information was provided.
“I can confirm that the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] has responded to United Nations Command, but I don’t have any substantial progress to read out,” Ryder informed reporters. Ryder, however, said the response from North Korea was simply “an acknowledgment” of the United Nations Command’s efforts to seek information about King.
In an interview with Good Morning America on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said the United States has not gathered any new information despite Pyongyang’s first response.
“I wish we did know more,” he said. “We’re actually trying to learn more about his whereabouts and his well-being, and we simply don’t have that information,” he added. “We’re trying by every means possible just to get that basic information and then to see about bringing him home.”
Prior to intentionally entering North Korea, King was supposed to return to the United States after he was held at a detention facility in South Korea for 47 days, ABC News reported. A U.S. official said he was detained by South Korean authorities after he got into an altercation with locals. King was reportedly stationed in South Korea at the time.
Following his release, a military escort took King to the Incheon International Airport to board a flight to the United States and report to his base in Fort Bliss, Texas, an official said. The soldier was said to be facing “pending administrative separation actions for foreign conviction.”
But King could only be taken to the customs checkpoint as the military escort was without a ticket to enable passage beyond that area. King, therefore, made his way to the terminal without the escort before leaving the airport for a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Authorities did not also expect King to deliberately miss his flight.
During the tour, a tourist claimed King crossed into the secretive nation after laughing out loud, New York Post reported. In the wake of the incident, King’s mother said learning about her son entering North Korea had left her in shock. “I can’t see Travis doing anything like that,” Claudine Gates told ABC News.