Republican Texas Representative Michael McCaul says U.S. Army Private Travis King made a “serious mistake” when he chose to cross the notorious demilitarized zone (DMZ) border into North Korea.
“He was facing disciplinary charges and was going to fly back to the United States. But, instead, he did not board the plane, went with a tour group to the DMZ and then ran across the line,” McCaul told host Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.”
As chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the lawmaker said, “That’s something you just don’t do.”
“And now he was taken captive by North Koreans,” McCaul continued. “And I’m sure that he’s not being treated very well. I think it was a serious mistake on his part and I hope we can get him back.”
House Foreign Affairs chair Michael McCaul tells @MarthaRaddatz he’s concerned North Korea will demand concessions in exchange for releasing Travis King, the U.S. soldier detained after crossing the border.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) July 23, 2023
As BizPac Review reported, King was facing additional disciplinary action in the United States for allegedly kicking and damaging a South Korean police squad car. For his outburst, King had already served a 47-day sentence behind S. Korean bars.
He was released on July 10 and, instead of returning home to learn his fate, he joined a commercial tour group to the DMZ at Incheon International Airport outside Seoul.
Once at the DMZ, King was seen “running what looked like full gas towards the North Korean side,” according to one eye-witness.
— BizPac Review (@BIZPACReview) July 23, 2023
If he crossed willingly into North Korea, questions of whether he defected to the oppressive nation will complicate negotiations for his return, McCaul noted.
“I think he was more running from his problems,” the Texan said, adding, “That was the wrong place to go.”
“But, we see this with Russia, China, Iran – when they take an American, particularly a soldier, captive, they exact a price for that,” he continued. “And that’s what I worry about.”
Speaking at an Aspen Security Forum Fireside Chat on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he didn’t “have any further information to share,” with respect to where in North Korea King was being held.
“We are very concerned, of course, about his well-being. We’d like to know his whereabouts. We’ve communicated to North Korea, seeking that information,” he said. “I don’t have anything more at this point.”
Asked if there were concerns that King was being tortured by his captors, Blinken replied, “There are certainly concerns based on what we’ve seen in the past and the way that North Korea has treated those it’s detained.”
“I’m absolutely foremost concerned about the welfare of our troop,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a July 18 press conference confirming that King “willfully and without authorization” crossed the DMZ.
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