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14 June, 2024
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US soldier detained in North Korea

Private Travis King held after crossing border during joint security area tour

Source: Daily Mail

An American soldier has been detained in North Korea after crossing the border from South Korea during a tour in the region.

The soldier has been named as private second-class Travis King. The UN Command says it is now trying to negotiate his release.

King was taking part in a Joint Security Area Tour which takes tourists through the area between North and South Korea.

It is beyond the heavily fortified border that permits entry from the Military Demarcation Line.

'A U.S. National on a JSA (Joint Security Area) orientation tour crossed, without authorization, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK),' the U.N. Command said on Twitter.

'We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and we are working with our KPA counterparts to resolve this incident,' it added, referring to North Korea's People's Army.

The man is the first American since Bruce Byron Lowrance in 2018 to be detained by North Korean forces. Lowrance was held for a month after he illegally entered the country from China.

The Military Demarcation Line marks the border between North and South Korea and has been in place since the Armistice was signed in July 1953. The Korean Demilitarized Zone sits on either side of the border, stretching 2km each way.

Since 1950, the United Nations Command - a multinational security effort - has patrolled the area with the aim of maintaining the armistice and facilitating diplomacy between the two countries.

Cases of Americans or South Koreans defecting to North Korea are rare, though more than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea to avoid political oppression and economic difficulties at home since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Panmunjom, located inside the 248-kilometer (154-mile) -long Demilitarized Zone, was created at the close of the Korean War. Bloodshed and gunfire have occasionally occurred there, but it has also been a venue for numerous talks and a popular tourist spot.

The area is jointly overseen by the U.N. Command and North Korea. No civilians live at Panmunjom.

This is the last recorded border incident involving an individual since September 2020 when a South Korean official of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries disappeared from his patrol boat that was six miles north of the Northern Limit Line - a disputed maritime demarcation line in the Yellow Sea between the North and South.

Lee Dae-jun was found wearing a life jacket by the North's own patrol where he was shot and killed by Pyongyang troops and his body burned over fear of coronavirus, South Korean intelligence said.

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