US soldier disappeared to North Korea: New details

Andrew Harnik/AP/dpa
Vice Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh, here in 2022, recently informed about the mysterious case of an American soldier. © Andrew Harnik/AP/dpa

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The US Department of Defense has released new details about the mysterious case of an American soldier who illegally crossed the inner-Korean border into North Korea a few days ago.

The young man was escorted to the airport and was scheduled to fly back to the United States, but left the airport at the last minute before boarding the plane, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said in Washington.

The soldier has completed his deployment and should have returned home after spending time in a detention center in South Korea for a crime, Singh said. In the USA, he was threatened with “additional administrative measures”. She wasn’t more specific.

She also did not give any details about the background to his detention. The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Wednesday, citing the judicial authorities, that the man had kicked and damaged a police patrol car in a row against Koreans and their military and had been prosecuted.

investigation is still ongoing

The Pentagon spokeswoman said the US soldier was not in custody on the way to the airport. But he had companions who would have brought him through the security check. “I don’t think anyone expected them to leave the airport,” she said.

The young man later took part in a commercial tour at the border, where he finally broke away from the group and crossed the border into North Korea. “We don’t know what he did in the hours between leaving the airport and crossing over to North Korea,” Singh said. “We do not know his motives for not boarding the plane.” All of this is currently being investigated.

“We don’t know how he’s doing,” she said. “We don’t know where he is being held. We don’t know how his health is.” All that is known is that he is in the custody of the North Koreans.

The US government is trying to get in touch with North Korea in a variety of ways, Singh said. So far, however, the North Korean side has not responded to any of these attempts. The aim is to bring the US soldiers home. When asked by reporters if the young man might not want to return, Singh referred to the ongoing investigation and said his current duty status was “unauthorized absence from the force.”

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