After the surprise of the action of Travis King, there are now above all concerns. Because what awaits the American soldier after his meeting with North Korea this week? “North Korea could use him as a pawn in negotiations with the United States.”
Accompanied by a group of tourists, Travis King went last Tuesday to Panmunjom, a village on the border between North Korea and South Korea. Suddenly, the 23-year-old soldier ran to North Korea. Since then, nothing has been heard from him.
The soldier had been in the military since 2021. On July 10, King was released after serving about two months in a South Korean prison. King reportedly, according to the news agency PA assaulted a man and damaged a police cruiser.
The United States has been trying to contact Pyongyang since his disappearance, but the North Koreans seem so far unresponsive. No wonder, because the ties between the two countries have been greatly disrupted. For example, the United States is very critical of North Korea because it works to build nuclear weapons and regularly launches missiles.
Not the first American detained in North Korea
“The North Koreans have shown no interest in engaging with us at this time,” Thomas Hubbard told the news agency. Reuters. The retired American ambassador himself traveled to Pyongyang in 1994 to bring back another American.
Then he came to Bobby Hall, a helicopter pilot who was on a training mission. According to a reconstruction of The New York Times Hall and his co-pilot flew into North Korea without realizing it. The helicopter was shot down, killing Halls’ co-pilot. Hall himself was captured but was released after negotiations.
“It was a very different time,” Hubbard says. “The North Koreans saw that they had a stake in the relationship with the United States.” Now the cards are different, and that could be bad news for Travis King.
Travis King can be used for propaganda
Because to negotiate, you must first be able to contact North Korea. But there are no direct lines with Pyongyang. According Reuters attempts have been made to establish contact through the United Nations and a UN representative, but as far as is known this has yielded no results.
Due to growing tensions with the United States, North Korea may also use Travis King as a bargaining chip. “It can be used to pressure Washington and make concessions,” North Korean researcher Yang Moo-jin told the news agency. PA. “For example, North Korea can demand that America reduce its military activities with South Korea in exchange for a release.”
Another option is for the soldier to be used as propaganda. It happened once before in 1965. Then the American soldier ran away Charles Jenkins in North Korea to avoid military service in Vietnam. With pamphlets and films, the North Koreans used it as propaganda to convince their own people that life was better there than in the West.
“The United States must respect Pyongyang”
Experts believe Travis King is less suited to propaganda, as he is believed to have ended up in North Korea due to his legal issues and other issues with the US military. Most experts agree that King will be questioned for at least a long time, with a possible deportation or indictment afterwards.
Whatever happens now, “the United States must avoid blaming itself,” says Mickey Bergman. He is the director of the Richardson Center, founded by a former diplomat who negotiated with North Korea to release prisoners.
“The United States must communicate calmly and respect Pyongyang’s right to detain and question any soldier who has entered its territory. Ninety percent of what happens to Travis King depends on how we react now.”
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