Racine soldier Travis King who ran into North Korea charged with desertion, child pornography

South Korea Koreas Tensions
Posted at 10:08 AM, Oct 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-20 11:08:28-04

RACINE — Travis King, the U.S. Army private from Racine who ran across the border into North Korea, has been charged with desertion and possessing sexual images of a child.

According to the Associated Press, a charging document details the eight counts King is facing. The officials who spoke to the AP requested anonymity because the charges are yet to be publicly announced.

According to AP, King's mother Claudine Gates said her son should be "afforded the presumption of innocence." Gates also said, “A mother knows her son, and I believe something happened to mine while he was deployed."

King, 23, returned to the United States in September after sprinting across the heavily fortified bordered between the Koreas on July 18. He was supposed to be heading to Fort Bliss, Texas, following his release from prison in South Korea on an assault conviction.

King was the first American confirmed to be detained in the isolated nation in nearly five years.

King was brought by a Swedish convoy to the Friendship bridge on the border between North Korea and Dandong, China, according to two US officials. Sweden acted as the interlocutor between the US and North Korea for King's return.

As previously reported, King was declared AWOL from the Army. In many cases, someone who is AWOL for more than a month can automatically be considered a deserter.

Punishment for desertion can vary, and it depends in part on whether the service member voluntarily returned or was apprehended. King’s handover by the North Koreans makes that more complicated.