(Washington) American soldier Travis King was repatriated to the United States after being expelled by North Korea, a US Department of Defense official said Thursday.
“I confirm that he landed in the United States,” this official told AFP, without giving further details.
Another official said he was to be treated at a military hospital in Texas, where basketball star Brittney Griner was examined after her detention in Russia last year.
This soldier was recovered in “good health” by the American army on Wednesday after being expelled by North Korea, at the end of a diplomatic sequence in which Sweden and China played a role.
Three months earlier, Travis King, an American soldier stationed in South Korea, illegally entered North Korea from the demilitarized zone separating the two countries. He had to return to Texas to answer a disciplinary committee after having had trouble with the authorities in South Korea.
According to the North Korean state agency KCNA, which reported the detention of soldier King, the latter had defected to escape “mistreatment and racial discrimination in the American army”.
South Korea is a key ally of the United States and hosts some 27,000 American troops on its soil.
The two Koreas are still technically at war since the end of the conflict on the peninsula in 1953, which ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty, and their common border is particularly fortified.