The family of Pvt. Travis King, the U.S. soldier who made headlines last week for crossing into North Korea, has raised doubts regarding the story while calling on the government to do more to bring him back.
Background: King, 23, ran into the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone while on a civilian tour on July 18, according to some tourists from the group. He was supposed to return to Texas the day before but allegedly claimed that he had lost his passport.
King is facing disciplinary action in the U.S. after being convicted of assaulting a man in South Korea, which landed him in jail for 47 days and fined him 5 million won (approximately $3,900). After being arrested, he reportedly disparaged South Korea, its military and its police.
What his family is saying: King is presumed to be in North Korean custody. But as Pyongyang — which has no diplomatic relations with Washington — remains silent over the matter, his family is desperate for answers.
“My brother, he’s not the type to get into trouble like that. It all just sounds made up,” King’s sister, Jaqueda Gates, told NBC News this week.
King’s mother, Claudine Gates, previously told ABC News that she “can’t see Travis doing anything like that.” Jacqueda believes the story is “way deeper” than what she can imagine and that her brother had been sharing his excitement to go home.
King’s uncle, Myron Gates, said the government should fight to retrieve him. “When he went to the Army to fight for America, America should fight for him, fight for him to come home,” he told NBC News.
The latest: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin previously confirmed that King had crossed into North Korea “willfully and without authorization.” As of Monday, no new communication between the United Nations and North Korea regarding King has been reported.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, previously stated that the U.S. is “doing everything we can” to determine King’s condition, as per The New York Times. He also said the administration is “making it clear that we want to see him safely and quickly returned to the United States and to his family.”