The U.S. soldier who crossed into North Korea did so to escape "inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination" in the military, North Korea state media said on Wednesday.
Private Travis King crossed the border between South Korea and North Korea on July 18 during a civilian tour of the heavily fortified Joint Security Area (JSA). U.S. officials have said that they believe the crossing to be intentional, and have not classified him as a prisoner of war.
North Korea breaks silence on Travis King
North Korea's government recently revealed that their investigation also revealed that King crossed the border deliberately, and that he sought to stay in the country on in a third-party nation.
"During the investigation, Travis King confessed that he had decided to come over to the DPRK as he harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army," officials stated. "He also expressed his willingness to seek refugee in the DPRK or a third country, saying that he was disillusioned at the unequal American society."
King has been "kept under control by soldiers of the Korean People's Army" and the investigation is still ongoing. North Korean officials have not revealed any other information as to his whereabouts or condition. The Pentagon has stated it cannot verify the authenticity of King's alleged comments.
North Korean officials have long used racism and social unrest in the United States to deflect criticism against their own country. As recently as Thursday, a United Nations Security Council meeting was called to discuss human rights in North Korea.
King's family previously put forth that he experienced racism during his military deployment. His uncle Myron Gates told ABC News earlier this month that after King spent time in a South Korean jail, he began acting unlike himself.
A spokesperson for King's family, Jonathan Franks, recently shared a message from his mother imploring North Korean officials to ensure his safety.
"Ms. Gates is aware of today’s 'report' from KCNA," he said. "DPRK authorities are responsible for Travis King's well-being, and she continues to appeal to them to treat him humanely"