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.