Mother of Defected US Soldier Travis King Expresses Inability to Fathom Her Son’s Actions in North Korea

The mother of a U.S. Army soldier, who reportedly made a swift crossing across the symbolic border dividing North and South Korea on Tuesday, expressed her disbelief regarding her son’s actions.

According to a report from the Korea Herald, Private Travis King defected to North Korea by swiftly crossing the imaginary line that separates the two Koreas.

The report by the Herald highlighted that tourists visiting the area often outnumber the unarmed guards stationed on each side of the arbitrary border crossing.

“I can’t see Travis doing anything like that,” Claudine Gates, of Racine, Wisconsin, told ABC News.

Reportedly, Travis King, her son, swiftly crossed the demarcation line that separates the two countries that are technically in a state of war.

“To our right, we hear a loud HA-HA-HA and one guy from OUR GROUP that has been with us all day- runs in between two of the buildings and over to the other side!!” Mikaela Johansson posted to her Facebook.

“It took everybody a second to react and grasp what had actually happened, then we were ordered into and through Freedom House and running back to our military bus,” she added, according to an NK News report.

According to reports, Ms. Johansson, a Swedish citizen, stated that JSA authorities had requested visitors not to share photographs of the incident.

Prior to the incident, Private King had been dealing with disciplinary charges in South Korea and had recently been released from prison in the country. He had been scheduled to board a flight to Fort Bliss, Texas, to face disciplinary proceedings.

However, instead of boarding his flight from Seoul’s Incheon Airport, he reportedly joined a tour group that was forming at the airport, as mentioned in a report by The New York Times.

This tour group was headed to the Joint Security Area, commonly known as Panmunjom, located within the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas.

“[W]hat we do know is that one of our service members who was on a tour, willfully and without authorization, crossed the military demarcation line,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told reporters Tuesday.

“In terms of my concerns, I’m absolutely foremost concerned about the welfare of our troop,” Secretary Austin added.

Many are questioning the factors that may have influenced the young soldier to take such a drastic step. Private King’s previous encounters with the law involved causing damage to public property and assaulting officers in Seoul, which resulted in his imprisonment in South Korea.

According to US officials mentioned in the Herald report, King was released from a South Korean prison approximately two months ago after serving his sentence for the assault charges.

The report mentioned that upon his return to the Texas base, the soldier was expected to face additional disciplinary actions from his service branch.

Ms. Gates, the soldier’s mother, passionately appealed for her son’s repatriation from the secluded nation of North Korea. She struggled to comprehend how her son, a U.S. soldier, could have committed such a serious act.