American soldier who fled to N. Korea faces slew of criminal charges

The American soldier who fled into North Korea in July is back in the U.S. and now faces a slew of damning criminal charges.

U.S. Army Private 2nd Class Travis King was returned to the U.S. in late September after several weeks of “intense diplomacy,” according to CNN. Weeks later, he’s now been charged with a series of crimes for deserting his post, possessing child pornography, assaulting fellow soldiers, and disobeying his superior officer.

“King, 23, was detained Wednesday at Ft. Bliss, Texas, according to a source familiar, who [said] that he is being held in pre-trial detention,” CNN reported Friday.

According to Konstantin Toropin of, the child pornography possession charge stems from an early July “interaction with a Snapchat user that was a minor who King solicited to make nude images.”

The assault charge meanwhile stems from an incident that occurred in October of 2022 when “he assaulted Army NCOs after an attempted escape from custody.”

Responding to these charges, King’s mother issued a statement raising concerns about his mental health.

“I love my son unconditionally and am extremely concerned about his mental health. As his ‘mother, I ask that my son be afforded the presumption of innocence. The man I raised, the man I dropped off at boot camp, the man who spent the holidays with me before deploying did not drink. A mother knows her son, and I believe something happened to mine while he was deployed,” she said.

“The Army promised to investigate what happened at Camp Humphries, and I await the results. I am grateful for the extraordinary legal team representing my son, and I look forward to my son having his day in court,” she added.

As previously reported, King had served in the military for two years without any major issue up until he allegedly kicked a South Korean squad car, damaging it and earning himself a 47-day sentence behind bars.

Upon his release from a South Korean prison on July 10th, he was “escorted by the military to Incheon International Airport outside Seoul, the capital, for possible further disciplinary action in the United States,” according to NBC News.

But instead of flying back home like he was supposed to do, King “joined a commercial tour group headed for the Joint Security Area.”

“The truce village, also known as Panmunjom, is about an hour and a half from the airport and is the only place along the approximately 155-mile Demilitarized Zone where North and South Korea interact,” NBC News noted in its original report.

At one point during the tour, King bolted from the group and was spotted “running what looked like full gas towards the North Korean side,” an eyewitness said.

He eventually made it across and remained there until his recent release.

What remains unknown is why he deserted. Many suspect he did so because he knew a child pornography charge was impending:

King’s mother has previously said she couldn’t imagine her son doing something so bizarre.

“I can’t see Travis doing anything like that,” she said to ABC News in July.


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