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U.S Soldier Escapes INTO North Korea, Currently in NK Custody

A U.S. soldier crossed into North Korea while he was touring as a member of a civilian group at the Joint Security Area without authorization. After crossing the border, he was immediately detained by the DPRK, according to officials Tuesday from the Pentagon and the United Nations body that oversees the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.

“We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and are working with our KPA counterparts to resolve this incident,” the U.N. Command wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

U.S. officials told CBS News the soldier in question was Private 2nd Class Travis King, who had been released from military detention in South Korea and was being escorted out of the country for disciplinary reasons. After going through airport security to leave, he somehow returned and managed to join a border tour group before crossing into North Korea, the officials said.

Local media said the man, who was visiting the Military Demarcation Line at Panmunjom with a civilian tour group, crossed the border at 3:27 p.m. local time (2:27 a.m. Eastern).

A person who said they witnessed the event and was part of the same tour group told CBS News they had just visited one of the buildings at the site when “this man gives out a loud ‘ha ha ha,’ and just runs in between some buildings.”

The witness said military personnel reacted within seconds to the man’s actions, but at first, there was confusion.

“I thought it was a bad joke at first, but when he didn’t come back, I realized it wasn’t a joke, and then everybody reacted and things got crazy.”

A Pentagon official who spoke to NPR on the condition of anonymity added that the soldier was facing disciplinary action and was dressed in civilian clothes at the time of the incident.

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