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North Korea has expelled a Black American soldier who crossed its border from South Korea two months ago.

On Wednesday (Sept. 27), the Grio reported U.S. officials confirmed that Travis King, a Black soldier who crossed into North Korea over the heavily armed border separating it from South Korea, was back in American custody in China after North Korea expelled him. It follows a report by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency which announced its intent to do so earlier in the day. “The relevant organ of the DPRK decided to expel Travis King, a soldier of the U.S. Army who illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK,” it said in a statement.

King was an Army serviceman stationed in South Korea. He made his way into North Korea after leaving a civilian tour in a border village in the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone on July 18th. The 23-year-old had recently been released from prison after a two-month sentence for assaulting a South Korean national in a nightclub in September 2022. King was set to return to Fort Bliss, Texas to face further disciplinary action.

The state agency said that King confessed to entering the country illegally due to having an “ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination” in the Army, and expressed being “disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society.” The agency had issued similar statements during King’s time in their custody, and there is no way to authenticate how true they are.

In an interview with an ABC News network in Wisconsin in August, King’s mother and uncle spoke about how they felt he was struggling in the Army before he went to North Korea. “I just can’t see him ever wanting to just stay in Korea when he has family in America. He has so many reasons to come home,” Claudine Gates said.

King’s release after 71 days in North Korea is notable as tensions between the highly cloistered nation and the United States still remain high due to North Korea’s aggressive expansion of its nuclear weapons program and its hacking missions and the U.S. ramping up military exercises with South Korea. An analyst with an institute in South Korea observed that North Korea may have decided King had no value as a potential source of U.S. military intelligence.