September 24, 2023

(NewsNation) — A retired common believes the U.S. soldier who bolted into North Korea has defected.

“Maybe this man thought he had a greater deal on the opposite facet of the border than he was dealing with again within the States,” retired Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the previous assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, instructed NewsNation host Dan Abrams.

Pvt. Travis King fled from South Korea into North Korea, U.S. officers mentioned Tuesday. King had simply been launched from a South Korean jail after being held on assault costs and confronted extra army disciplinary actions within the U.S.

King was escorted to the airport to move again to Fort Bliss, Texas. As an alternative of boarding the airplane, he joined a tour of the Korean border village of Panmunjom and ran throughout the border.

“I believe he defected,” Kimmitt mentioned. “It is a soldier who had acquired a courtroom martial, a nasty conduct discharge, was going again to the States to face an unsure future. It’s laborious to get any army advantages should you’ve acquired a nasty conduct discharge.”

King is the primary identified American detained in North Korea in practically 5 years. It’s unclear which extra army costs he faces within the U.S.

“We’ve had this occur not many occasions in historical past, however about seven occasions. American troopers have gone over to the North. Candidly, they’ve lived a reasonably good life as propaganda instruments. … The North Koreans exit of their strategy to give them a home, give them a spouse, give them cash,” Kimmitt mentioned.

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Kimmitt says a significant factor is whether or not King is in North Korea voluntarily or if he’s being involuntarily held.

“If the Koreans suppose that he’s a hazard or he’s a menace to them, he’s not going to have a great time of it,” Kimmitt mentioned. “However, I don’t suppose that’s the scenario.”

He continued: “I might suspect that if this man really needs to remain there, he’ll surrender his citizenship after which it’s a very completely different scenario on the a part of the US. However the presumption is that if an American citizen is held by a hostile energy or simply being held hostage, the US will do every part in its energy to retrieve that citizen.”

The U.S.-led U.N. Command believes King is in North Korean custody. North Korea has remained silent in regards to the scenario.

King’s border crossing unfolded amid excessive tensions over North Korea’s missile testing for the reason that starting of final yr.

The Related Press contributed to this report.