Updated Jul 18, 2023, 1:11pm EDT
East Asia

What we know about the US soldier who entered North Korea

South Korean people look toward the North through binoculars at an observation post near the demilitarised zone separating two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File

Sign up for Semafor Flagship: The daily global news briefing you can trust. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

The U.S. citizen who crossed into North Korea over the Joint Security Area (JSA) early Tuesday is a soldier who “willfully and without authorization” went over the demarcation line, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said. Officials have not identified him by name so far.

The soldier was facing disciplinary action by the U.S. military, though there is no indication he was trying to defect, CNN reported. CBS News and the Washington Post, citing U.S. officials, reported that the soldier was scheduled to be on a flight back to the U.S. but did not get on the plane.

Austin said the U.S. believes he is in North Korean custody, and they are trying to notify his family.

The United Nations initially said the soldier crossed into North Korean territory during a tour of the area. It is not yet known why the soldier crossed the border, which is known as one of the most dangerous places on earth.

— Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report.