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Travis King
Travis King, the U.S., Army soldier who has been detained in North Korea, is pictured in the 2019 Washington Park High School yearbook Wednesday, July 19, 2023, in Racine, Wisconsin. King graduated in 2020, but there was no yearbook published that year. / Mark Hertzberg – Special to Racine County Eye

A soldier with the U.S. Army is being held in North Korea after he reportedly fled from his Army unit across the border, but his mom believes that’s unlikely.

Travis King, 23, was stationed in South Korea to patrol the demilitarized zone (DMZ). According to a story from National Public Radio, King was involved in some sort of incident with local residents and was scheduled to return to the U.S. for a hearing on assault charges. He was at the airport to board his flight when he exited the terminal and joined a tour group of a nearby community. From there, he crossed the DMZ into North Korea.

Mom says son wouldn’t run from Army

Claudine Gates, of Racine, is quoted by ABC News as saying she was shocked to hear that her son disappeared.

“I can’t see Travis doing anything like that,” she told reporters.

The last time Gates spoke to her son was last week, she confirmed, and he told her he was headed home to Fort Bliss in Texas.

Army, Travis King
A car at the Racine, Wisconsin home of the mother of Travis King, the U.S. Army soldier who has been detained in North Korea, is shown Wednesday, July 19, 2023. / Mark Hertzberg for Racine County Eye

King’s brother spoke to TMJ4 News on the condition of anonymity and said his mother is deeply concerned for her son. Her fear is heightened, he continued, because she has survived the loss of a child.

“My mom’s already lost a child before, a son before, he told a reporter. “This is weighing very heavily on her.”

The brother wouldn’t comment on Travis’s personality or his character because he said understanding his brother as a person now was too late to keep people from jumping to their own conclusions.

“In terms of speaking on Travis’ character, and all that stuff, there’s nothing that I’m going to say that’s going to change people’s opinions on it right now. So I’m not I’m not going to comment on any of that,” the brother is quoted as saying.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters in Washington, D.C. that U.S. officials are actively working on the situation to resolve King’s detention, the story from ABC News continues.

Racine County Eye will update this story as details become available.