You might have seen some news lately about an American being detained in North Korea, namely Travis King. This has obviously drawn lots of opinion, as well as rumour, so we thought we’d give our own two cents worth.
To read a history of crossing the line click here.
Who is Travis King?
Private 2nd Class Travis King was facing a court martial of sorts from the US Army and was being flown back from the Republic of Korea to the US. Said crimes were not big enough to have him in cuffs though, nor have his passport taken away.
With this in mind he decided to leave the airport and book a tour to the DMZ with the American army…
To read about the DMZ click here.
He then decided to cross the line, from where he was detained by Korean People’s Army (KPA) forces. This was mid-July and since then the trail went dry, until a few days ago.
The Travis King press release
It had been assumed by US DPRK watchers and the media that knows the country that he had followed in the path of James Dresnok and defected; this was seemingly confirmed by a statement from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), who released the following;
“During the investigation, Travis King confessed that he had decided to come over to the DPRK as he harboured ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army. He also expressed his willingness to seek refuge in the DPRK or a third country, saying that he was disillusioned at the unequal American society.”
Open and shut case right? Sadly not when the media deal with North Korea.
What is being said about Travis King
The media circus have described him as a prisoner, being detained, as well as a few slightly more clueless outlets saying he should be declared a “prisoner of war”.
If though he has actually defected, or caught asylum then has of course been “detained”, as is what happens in many countries, such as the UK who even want to send people to Rwanda, and Australia who previously sent refugees to Nauru.
To read the strange tale of Nauru click here.
What is likely to happen to Travis King?
One of the key, but ignored parts of the statement was that Travis King was seeking refuge in North Korea, or a third country. This leaves open the door for him to potentially leave the DPRK for a neutral third country.
This would mean North Korea not having to keep a defector until his old age, while also not simply handing him back to the “enemy”.
Mostly though it does not affect when North Korea might open, if Americans will be allowed back in, nor when it might open.
You can check out YPT’s North Korea tours here.