An American soldier who recently crossed the inter-Korean border into North Korea had been in a prison workshop for 48 days after failing to pay a court fine for kicking and damaging a police patrol car in Seoul, legal sources said on Thursday.
Pvt. Travis King, stationed in South Korea, willfully crossed the inter-Korean border into North Korea without authorisation during a tour to the Joint Security Area on Tuesday and is believed to be in North Korea’s custody, according to the UN Command and American defence authorities.
American media organisations reported that he had been in the process of being sent back to the US for disciplinary action in connection with assault charges he faced in South Korea, reports Yonhap News Agency.
The legal sources here said that King, 23, received a 5 million-won ($3,955) fine from a court in Seoul on February 8 on charges of inflicting damage on a police patrol vehicle.
King, however, did not pay the fine and was eventually detained in a prison workshop for 48 days in line with a court ruling that he be held for one day for each unpaid 100,000 won, the sources said.
He was accused of repeatedly kicking the back door of a police patrol vehicle in Seoul’s Mapo district in the wee hours of October 8, 2022 and inflicting damage that required 584,000 won worth of repairs.
King was apprehended by police at that time for suspected violence at a nightclub.
He reportedly did not cooperate with police officers demanding his personal information and kicked the door of the police car while shouting foul language against Koreans and the Korean military, according to police investigations.
King was detained from May 24 to July 10 in a penitentiary in Cheonan, 85 kilometers south of Seoul, before being released and relocated to an American military base in South Korea for a weeklong stay.
He was reportedly found to have fled Incheon International Airport on Monday afternoon while in the process of boarding a flight to Dallas.