US Private 2nd Class Travis King reportedly entered North Korea from the border village of Panmunjom.
North Korea has remained silent on claims that a US soldier entered its territory illegally when he crossed the heavily fenced border between South and North Korea.
There has been no word from North Korea on the fate of US Private 2nd Class Travis King, who entered North Korea on a tour of the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday.
North Korean media did not comment on Wednesday’s incident and the country’s mission at the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request from the Reuters news agency.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed on Tuesday that a member of the US had deliberately crossed the Korean border into North Korea without permission.
“We’re almost in, and there’s a lot we’re trying to learn, but what we do know is that one of our members who was on an unauthorized trip crossed a military border,” Austin said. he told reporters.
“We are closely monitoring and investigating the situation and we are trying to inform the family of the soldier so that we can deal with the situation,” he said.
North Korea fired two short bursts towards its eastern seaboard on Wednesday morning but the latest tremors were not thought to be related to the US military crossing the border.
Investigators said the missile blast was closely related to the arrival of a US nuclear-armed warship in the country’s port of Busan on Tuesday – the first such visit by a nuclear-armed warship since the early 1980s.
“It is possible that North Korea will use the soldier for propaganda purposes in the short term and as a medium of communication in the long term,” said Yang Moo-jin, president of the University of North Korea Studies in South Korea. .
King, 23, was a cavalryman with the 1st Armored Division who served nearly two months in a South Korean prison for assault, according to reports.
He was released on July 10 and was sent home on Monday to Fort Bliss, Texas, where he could have faced further military punishment and discharge. He was escorted through customs but left the airport in South Korea before boarding a flight to the US. It was not known how he survived the hours until he joined the Panmunjom march and crossed the border into North Korea on Tuesday afternoon.
The US military released his name and limited information after King’s family was notified. But several US officials gave details on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
US or South Korean cases from North Korea is rare, although more than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea to escape political repression and economic hardship since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
Panmunjom, located within the 248km-long (154-mile) Demilitarized Zone, has been under the control of the UN Command and North Korea since it was established at the end of the Korean War.
There has been some bloodshed there, but it has also become a center for dialogue and tourism.
Panmunjom, known for its blue domes and concrete blocks that form the border, attracts tourists from both sides who want to see the last frontier of the Cold War. There are no civilians living in Panmunjom. North and South Korean soldiers face each other as tourists from both sides pose for photos.
Tours to the south of the village are said to have drawn nearly 100,000 visitors a year before the coronavirus outbreak, when South Korea banned gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The tours also started last year.