New details released about US soldier who fled to North Korea

A DMZ tourist captured the moment before Travis King ran across

A Soldier accused of desertion after fleeing to North Korea will have his first court hearing next week, where lawyers will likely challenge his mental competency in hopes of a lighter punishment.

Pvt. Travis King, 24, faces multiple charges related to his escape from South Korea into North Korea in July 2023.

Drawing large press attention during his absence, King remained in North Korea until the United States and Sweden negotiated his return in September 2023.

The charges against King include trying to escape custody, soliciting, desertion, and disobeying lawful orders from a commissioned officer.

After his charges were levied against him, King’s lawyers requested a psychological evaluation, which was done by a team at Walter Reed military hospital near D.C.

“We’re going to introduce into evidence the document of what they found and talk about what it means,” said Frank Rosenblatt, King’s attorney. “It was a thorough evaluation, and it took them a lot of time.”

Rosenblatt, a former Army attorney, was also the lead military lawyer for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who faced a court-martial for desertion in 2017 after leaving his base in Afghanistan in 2009. Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held until May 2014 and branded a traitor by many after his return.

King joined the Army in January 2021 and had no combat deployments. He was in Korea as part of a rotational “deployment” with the 6th Squadron of the 1st Cavalry Regiment, which is based out of Fort Bliss, Texas.

In July of 2023, King was on a tour at the security area along the Demilitarized Zone when he fled to North Korea.

The trouble-prone Cavalry Scout had recently been released from a South Korean prison, where he served a sentence of six weeks due to assault charges.

Instead of boarding his flight back to Fort Bliss for disciplinary hearings, King made his way to the border tour.

North Korean state-run media reported last year that King told officials he fled the US because he was “disillusioned at the unequal American society,” and wanted refuge in North Korea or another country based on the grounds of racial discrimination.

Travis King (right) allegedly struggled with the loss of his cousin (left). Source: Facebook

Read More: Uncle of the soldier who fled to North Korea says he had a mental breakdown after a death in the family

The incident was poor press for the US Army, who nonetheless began the process to try and get him returned to US custody.

The Swedish government played a diplomatic role in securing King’s release, while China helped with his safe transit out of the Hermit Kingdom.

After leaving North Korea and returning to the US, King spent three weeks in debriefings and reintegration at Joint Base San Antonio before being returned to Fort Bliss.

Since October, King has been held at the Otero County Detention Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The hearing, which is set for July 16 at Fort Bliss in Texas, will determine whether or not a court-martial is necessary.

According to the Stripes, Col. Kirby Dennis, the commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, will preside over the hearing

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Author

  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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