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The saga of Private Travis King who ran into North Korea is another foreign policy headache for Biden
19 July 2023, 06:35
The job of the US President can't be an easy one at the best of times, and for Joe Biden, it just got that little bit more difficult.
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He's lost one of his soldiers, and worse, the soldier is in North Korea after running across the border while shouting "ha-ha-ha"...
Biden's latest foreign policy problem comes in the form of Private Second Class Travis King.
Now, an army Private, let alone a second-class one, might normally be below the notice of a President more used to dealing with Generals and Admirals, but the Commander in Chief's day is certainly going to be filled with Pvt King, and it has the potential to turn into an international crisis for the Biden administration.
Just two days ago, the US angered North Korea by parking a nuclear missile submarine in the South Korean port of Busan for the first time since the 1980s - a visible demonstration of US military strength that has drawn the ire of Kim Jong Un.
Then yesterday, it emerged the Army Private had run across the demilitarized zone and entered North Korea while on a tour.
A woman who said she was part of the tour group described being at the last stop when she heard a loud "HA-HA-HA" and saw the man, who'd been with the group all day, run "between two of the buildings and over to the other side."
King is the first American to be held in North Korea in nearly five years, a diplomatic emergency during an already fraught stretch of relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
The soldier "willfully and without authorization" crossed the military demarcation line during a tour, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters at the Pentagon.
The Army identified the soldier as Private 2nd Class Travis T. King, a cavalry scout who enlisted in January 2021. King was visiting the Joint Security Area that separates North and South Korea while on an "orientation tour," Army Col. Isaac Taylor, a spokesman for U.S. forces in South Korea, said in a statement.
The detention of King, the first American to be held in North Korea in nearly five years, is a diplomatic emergency during an already fraught stretch of relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
Although King's purpose for entering North Korea remains uncertain, his mere presence provides the North and its leader, Kim Jong Un, with an additional bargaining chip in their dealings with the US.
In the event that the soldier is being held against his will, President Biden may encounter mounting pressure to secure his release.
Plus, the North Koreans will undoubtedly exploit his presence within their borders as a powerful propaganda tool.