North Korea responded for the first time to requests for information about U.S. Army Pvt. Travis King, who ran across the border in the DMZ on July 18, the Pentagon said. File Photo by Thomas Maresca
Aug. 2 (UPI) -- North Korea has responded to outreach regarding Travis King, the U.S. soldier who bolted across the border inside the demilitarized zone in July, the Pentagon said.
"I can confirm that the DPRK has responded to United Nations Command but I don't have any substantial progress to read out," Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.
The U.S.-led United Nations Command, which controls DMZ access and military demarcation line crossings, had previously reached out to the North about King using established communication channels.
Ryder said the response was the first from North Korea and was "essentially an acknowledgment" that they had received the request for information.
King, a U.S. Army private, broke away from a tour group at the DMZ and crossed into North Korea on July 18.
The 23-year-old was scheduled to return to the United States and had been escorted to the security area of Incheon Airport earlier that day. He had served time in a correctional facility in South Korea after an altercation with locals and was expected to face additional disciplinary action when he returned home.
Instead of boarding his flight, however, King joined a tour of the heavily guarded Panmunjom Village in the demilitarized zone and made his dash across the border, the Pentagon said.
U.S. officials say they have no further information about King's well-being. Army counter-intelligence is conducting a joint investigation with U.S. Forces Korea about the soldier's actions, the Pentagon said in July.
"I'm absolutely foremost concerned about the welfare of our troop," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said after the incident. "We will remain focused on this, and this will develop in the next several days."