The American soldier who ran into North Korea after crossing the fortified border between the two Koreas arrived in the United States early Thursday, a video appeared to show.
The release of soldier Travis King was achieved with the help of ally Sweden and rival China, the White House said Wednesday.
In the video, the soldier appeared to get off a plane in San Antonio, Texas. Dressed in civilian clothes, he spoke briefly to people waiting on the runway and shook hands with one before being guided to a building.
North Korea had suddenly announced Wednesday that it would expel King. It was unclear why the country, which has strained relations with Washington over Pyongyang’s nuclear program, support for Russia’s war in Ukraine and other issues, had agreed to hand him over or why the soldier had fled in the first place.
King, who had served in South Korea, raced into North Korea while on a sightseeing tour in a border village on July 18, becoming the first confirmed American to be detained in North Korea in nearly five years. years.
At the time, King was supposed to be on his way to the base at Fort Bliss, Texas, after serving a sentence for assault in a South Korean prison.
His release was almost certainly not the end of his problems. He has been declared absent without leave by the Army, which can mean detention in a military prison, withholding of pay or dishonorable discharge.
Swedish officials took King to the Chinese border on Wednesday, where he was met by the US ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, the Swedish ambassador to China and at least one US Defense Department official. Members of the Biden administration insisted they had made no concessions to North Korea to secure the soldier’s release.
King traveled by air to a US military base in South Korea before returning to the United States.