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Travis King Charged With Desertion for Crossing Into North Korea

Travis King, the U.S. soldier who crossed into North Korea from South Korea earlier this year, has been charged by the Army with several crimes, including desertion, assaulting other soldiers and officers, and soliciting and possessing child pornography, according to documents obtained by CBS News.

King faces eight total charges, which also include making false statements and disobeying superior officers. A conviction on a peacetime desertion charge can come with a three-year prison sentence, according to The Associated Press. 

“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,” King’s mother, Claudine Gates, said in a statement to CBS News. “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.”

King, a Private 2nd Class in the U.S. Army who has served since 2021, entered North Korea on foot in July while he was on a guided tour of the South Korean border village of Panmunjom, which he joined after absconding from an airport in Seoul, where he was supposed to have boarded a flight back to the U.S. to face possible disciplinary action from the U.S. Army for actions taken before his alleged desertion.

A witness who was in King’s tour group told CBS News at the time that the soldier abruptly left the group, laughed and ran across the Military Demarcation Line in the Demilitarized Zone.  

He had been in South Korea as part of the Pentagon’s regular Korean Force Rotation, officials told CBS News. U.S. officials told CBS News that King had served time at a detention facility in South Korea and was handed over to officials about a week before he crossed into North Korea. A South Korean official told Agence France-Presse that King had spent about two months in a South Korean jail on assault charges after he was accused of kicking the door of a police patrol car and shouting obscenities at Korean officers.

He was later deported from North Korea and returned to U.S. custody last month.

North Korea’s KCNA released a statement at the time, saying: “The relevant agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] decided to expel Travis King, an American soldier who illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK, in accordance with the laws of the Republic.”  

Source : CBS