A U.S. soldier crossed one of the most closely guarded frontiers in the world this week to enter North Korea, according to the U.N. Command, which is led by the United States.
Because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, Andrew Harrison, a British lieutenant general who serves as the U.N. Command’s deputy commander, declined to specify when the communication began, how many exchanges there have been, or whether the North Koreans provided helpful responses. Additionally, he failed to elaborate on what the command knew about Pvt. Travis King’s health.
Harrison stated, “None of us know where this is going to end,” at a news conference in Seoul. “I have always been an optimist, and I still am. But once more, I’ll stop there.”
After the command indicated in a statement last week that it was “working with” its North Korean colleagues, it wasn’t immediately clear whether Harrison’s remarks alluded to meaningful improvement in talks. The United Nations Command, which was established to combat the Korean War, is still present in South Korea to oversee the execution of the 1953 armistice that put an end to hostilities.
According to Harrison, the communication took place as a result of “mechanisms” put in place by the armistice. That could be a reference to the infamous “pink phone,” a communication channel between the command and the North Korean People’s Army at Panmunjom, the village where King crossed the border under cover of darkness.
The tweet below confirms the news:
Will North Korea Release U.S. Soldiers?
Considering that no peace treaty was ever signed, the Koreas are still formally at war. Despite having fought with South Korea and other allies during the conflict, the U.S. never established diplomatic ties with the North, but they frequently talk over the line.
King, who allegedly crossed the border during a tour of Panmunjom while en route to Fort Bliss, Texas, after being released from a South Korean prison following a conviction for assault, has received no public response from North Korea.
Officials from the United States have expressed concern for his well-being and have said in the past that North Korea disregarded pleas for information regarding him.
In order to maximize leverage and increase the urgency of American efforts to win King’s release, analysts think North Korea may wait weeks or even months to divulge substantive information about him. According to others, North Korea may try to pressure Washington into making concessions by attaching his release to a reduction in American military engagements with South Korea.
Palmer notes that Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected to South Korea a number of years ago, stated on Facebook that U.S. soldiers who have entered or left North Korea are unavoidably a bother because their long-term cost-effectiveness in terms of propaganda and leverage over Washington and Seoul is low.
King’s passage occurred during a period of intense tension on the Korean Peninsula, during which both the pace of North Korea’s weapon demonstrations and the combined military drills of the United States have accelerated in a tit-for-tat cycle.
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US and South Korea Show of Force Against North Korea
The military of South Korea reported on Monday that a nuclear-powered American submarine had landed at a port on Jeju Island. The USS Annapolis’ arrival bolsters the allies’ display of might in response to North Korea’s nuclear threats.
The USS Kentucky made history last week by becoming the first American nuclear-armed submarine to visit South Korea since the 1980s. As a response to its arrival, North Korea sent out U.S. Navy ships and test-fired ballistic and cruise missiles, seemingly demonstrating its ability to launch nuclear attacks against South Korea.
Kentucky’s docking in South Korea may be cause for the North to use a nuclear weapon against it, North Korea’s defense minister implied in a veiled threat. Although North Korea has previously used similar language, the statement highlighted how tense the situation is right now.
In a show of force against North Korea, which has tested about 100 missiles since the beginning of 2022, the United States and South Korea have increased joint military drills and regional deployments of American ships and aircraft, including bombers, aircraft carriers, and submarines.
The Annapolis, which is powered by a nuclear reactor but is armed with conventional weaponry, is primarily responsible for eliminating enemy ships and submarines. The Annapolis primarily anchored at Jeju to load supplies, but Jang Do Young, a spokesman for the South Korean military, claimed that the American and South Korean armies were debating whether to schedule exercises using the ship.
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