What’s the Punishment for the US Soldier Who Crossed North Korea?

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what’s the punishment for the us soldier who crossed north korea

It’s a tale of an unexpected journey that has left everyone wondering about the future of Army Pvt. Travis King, who recently returned to the United States after spending two harrowing months in North Korean custody. The big question now: Will he face disciplinary actions for his audacious border-crossing act?

Experts suggest that King could potentially find himself entangled in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with charges like desertion (Article 85) or going Absent Without Leave (AWOL, Article 86) on the table. But the path ahead is anything but clear.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth has hinted that the decision on any punitive measures will be taken by King’s chain of command once he completes his reintegration process at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Right now, the immediate focus is on helping Pvt. King reintegrate, not on disciplinary actions.

King’s story is a complex one that began well before his dramatic dash into North Korea. He had already faced legal troubles and underwent a court martial by the Army in South Korea. Reports indicated that he was expected to be administratively separated from the military following a court martial related to assault and other charges.

King was meant to fly from Seoul back to the US the day before his border crossing misadventure. 

Court Martialed?

Retired Air Force judge advocate and military law expert Rachel VanLandingham expressed her astonishment if Pvt. King isn’t court-martialed for his astonishing act. She pointed out the exceptional nature of such incidents, noting that deterrence isn’t a significant concern since most soldiers wouldn’t contemplate a sprint across the border into North Korea.

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Mark Cancian, a retired Marine Corps colonel and senior advisor, offered an alternative perspective, suggesting that the Army might opt for a swift resolution rather than a full trial. A full trial would entail the logistical challenges of assigning him to a unit, conducting court martial proceedings, and reviewing extensive materials, which could stretch over several months.

One potential influence on the Army’s decision regarding Pvt. King is the information he may possess about North Korea. The case of Bowe Bergdahl, who cooperated extensively and provided valuable intelligence upon his return to US custody, serves as a precedent. The level of cooperation and intelligence sharing during debriefings could be a determining factor in King’s case.

However, given the brief duration of King’s stay in North Korea, questions arise about whether he possesses any valuable intelligence. Ultimately, the Army’s inclination to expedite King’s departure due to his prior misconduct issues in South Korea may sway the decision regarding his future within the military.

In essence, Pvt. Travis King’s return from North Korea has unveiled a captivating saga filled with uncertainty, leaving everyone pondering the next chapter in his story.

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