The mother of a US soldier who defected to North Korea has appeared on television to tearfully plead for her son to return home.
Speaking on the front porch of her home in Racine, Wisconsin, Travis King’s mother, Claudine Gates, expressed her concern for her son’s welfare.
‘I just want my son back. I just want my son back. take my son home take my son home And pray. Pray for him to come back,’ Gates told local television station WISN.
When asked what was the latest she understood about her son’s whereabouts and condition, she did not have additional information.
‘I have nothing more to say now,’ he said.
Claudine Gates, the mother of US soldier Travis King, who defected to North Korea, appeared on television to plead for her son’s safe return.
Speaking from her home in Racine, Wisconsin, she expressed her desire to have her son back and urged people to pray for his recovery.
Army Secretary Christine Warmuth said she was ‘concerned’ about Private 2nd Class Travis King, 23, and how the brutal North Korean regime would treat him.
A group of tourists stand near a border station at Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone in Paju, South Korea, on Tuesday. Shortly after this photo was taken, Travis King, a US soldier, crossed the border and became the first known American to be detained in the North in nearly 5 years.
King was just released from a detention facility in South Korea on Monday, accused of assault in two separate incidents, including damaging a police car, according to US officials.
‘From my knowledge, I heard that he, I guess, fought with some Koreans,’ King’s uncle, Myron Gates, told The Associated Press.
‘And it was kind of hard, you know, to believe that, too. Like, somebody had to push him to do it because he’s not the violent type.’
Myron and Carl Gates, King’s grandfather, said they were both confused and concerned for King’s well-being.
‘I was really surprised. I heard about it from my little niece, she sent me a link and I read his name, Travis King. I’m fine, huh? It knocked me out,’ says Myron Gates.
‘I think something is wrong with him. He doesn’t think clearly. I don’t think he will run like this. I don’t see that,’ said Carl Gates.
Carl Gates, right, grandfather of U.S. soldier Travis King, and Myron Gates, King’s uncle, said they were both confused and concerned for King’s well-being.
Myron Gates, the uncle of US soldier Travis King, said: ‘Someone had to push him to do it because he is not a violent person.
‘I think something is wrong with him. He doesn’t think clearly. I don’t think he will run like this. I don’t see that,’ said Carl Gates, King’s grandfather
Fears for the king were growing on Wednesday as North Korea has yet to produce troops or acknowledge the incident
King was expected to board a flight back to Fort Bliss, Texas, where he could face a possible discharge from the Army.
He was on a civilian tour of the Panmunjom truce village on Tuesday when he crossed the military demarcation line that has separated the two Koreas since the armistice ended in 1953 with the Korean War.
King was fined for the assault while in South Korea and was detained for more than a month before the US military took him to Incheon International Airport for a commercial flight to Dallas, Texas, according to US officials.
Once through security, he told airline staff at the departure gate that he had lost his passport and returned to the terminal, an airport official said on condition of anonymity.
US Army Secretary Christine Warmuth said King ‘may not be thinking clearly, openly.’
‘He assaulted a man in South Korea and was in the custody of the South Korean government and was going to face consequences in the military upon returning to the United States,’ he said. ‘I’m sure he jumped on it.’
Warmuth, in his first public comments on the case, said Washington was fully active in trying to communicate with Pyongyang, including through UN communications channels.
But North Korea has yet to respond, officials said.
‘I’m concerned about him,’ Wermuth told the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. He cited the case of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier, who was held prisoner in North Korea for 17 months and died shortly after returning to the U.S. in a coma in 2017.
King’s mother, Claudine Gates, just wants her son back in their Wisconsin home (pictured)
‘I am worried about how they will treat him. So, (we) want him back.’
At the White House, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also expressed concern: ‘This is not a country known for humane treatment of Americans – or anyone else for that matter.’
American officials are puzzled as to why King fled across the border into North Korea. But Wermuth admitted he was worried about possibly facing further disciplinary action from the military upon returning home to the United States.
He said he was not aware of any information that the 23-year-old was a North Korean sympathizer and denied suggestions the Pentagon might present him with an intelligence liability.
Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said investigations by the US Army’s Counterintelligence Office and US forces in South Korea led King to make such a misleading decision.
Singh declined to directly answer questions about whether the Pentagon believes King is still alive. He said the US military could not provide any information about King’s condition.
‘We don’t know his condition. We do not know where he is kept. We don’t know his health status,’ Singh said, describing his formal status in the military as ‘AWOL’ or absent without leave.
North Korea has remained silent about King, and US officials say Pyongyang has not responded to communications from the American military about the soldier. North Korean state media, which has reported on the detention of US citizens in the past, has so far not commented on the incident.
Speaking in Japan, Sung Kim, the US special envoy for North Korea, said the US was “working very hard” to determine the king’s status and well-being and was actively engaged in ensuring his safety and return. Kim did not elaborate.
North Korea and the United States have no formal diplomatic relations after years of international sanctions over their nuclear weapons and missile programs that have drawn condemnation from the United Nations.
Asked whether King might be sympathetic to North Korea, Warmuth said: ‘I don’t think we have any information that clearly indicates that.’
King crosses border at Panmunjom during visit to Joint Security Area of Demilitarized Zone
The border between North and South Korea is heavily guarded
Former President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at Panmunjom in South Korea’s Demilitarized Zone on June 30, 2019 – the site where the king made his crossing.
The Pentagon said it was not aware of any changes to the freedom of movement of roughly 28,500 US troops in South Korea.
Tensions are rising on the Korean peninsula. The North has been conducting ballistic missile tests, the most recent with the arrival of a US nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine in South Korea for the first time since the 1980s.
Last week, North Korea launched its new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in what it said was the longest flight time ever.
On Monday, North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong, sister of leader Kim Jong Un and an official in the ruling party, said the United States should stop the “stupid act” of provoking North Korea, saying it was putting its security at risk.
White House National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan made his comments after Washington expressed concern about North Korea conducting another ICBM test.
Read Full News Here