A U.S. soldier who infamously dashed across the border into North Korea is now in American custody after being deported by the North Korean government.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Pyongyang announced on Wednesday that Private 2nd Class Travis King had been removed from the country after admitting to entering illegally.
King made headlines in July when he ran across the Demilitarized Zone that divides North and South Korea, somehow managing to enter the hermit kingdom.
According to Newsweek, the North Korean media claimed that his flight was due to having “ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. army and was disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society.”
A closer inspection, however, reveals very different possible motives. King, who was stationed in South Korea had been arrested and fined by South Korean authorities for kicking and damaging a police car. He then spent seven months in a detention facility.
He was supposed to board a flight back to the US to face disciplinary action for his behavior, but King slipped away from his escort at the airport and joined a civilian tour group going to tour the DMZ.
It was during the tour of the DMZ that he ran across the border, hoping to find refuge in North Korea.
Unfortunately for him, even the infamous hermit kingdom did not want him. The communist government handed him over to Swedish officials, who then transported him to China where he was turned over to US diplomats.
It is unclear whether he will face court-martial or discipline. One US official only told the Wall Street Journal, “Our focus right now is on Pvt. King’s health and ensuring that he receives all appropriate support before reuniting with his family.”
While at first, it may be tempting to praise the North Korean government for deporting this sorry soldier, who likely fled to escape justice, it is more likely that North Korea acted less out of a concern for justice and more out of a concern for national security.
Obviously, the United States and North Korea have no love for each other, and Kim Jong Un and his henchmen probably suspected that King was actually a spy, pretending to be a defector from the US.
His deportation was probably North Korea’s way of kicking a potential spy out of their country — thus making this an act of self-preservation more than anything altruistic.
This is what makes these types of situations so dangerous. This time it was resolved without a problem, but when incidents like this happen, there is a chance that it could cause a serious diplomatic problem.
Tensions in that part of the world are very high right now, especially with China’s increasingly aggressive actions, and all it takes is the slightest provocation for a full-scale war to break out.
North Korea is a nuclear-armed nation, and the United States has a massive concentration of troops just across the border. Any misstep and the consequences could be horrendous.
The case of Travis King was just the latest in a long line of strange diplomatic encounters between the United States and North Korea.
Let’s just hope that in future situations, both governments are willing to act prudently, as they did with King.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.