'He's in a Real Bad Place': US Makes Little Progress in Getting Pvt. Travis King Back from North Korea

Efforts to retrieve Pvt. Travis King, who fled into North Korea, have made little progress. The Pentagon and State Department are working with South Korea and Sweden on the case. However, North Korea has remained silent, and King's condition and captivity terms are unknown. American captives have been mistreated North Korean custody before, causing concern for King's family. The Defense Department reached out to North Korean counterparts, but there has been no response. Multiple agencies, including the United Nations and the White House, are involved in the effort. King's status as an active-duty soldier may have complicated initial efforts, as responsibility falls under both the State Department and the Department of Defense. King had served time in a South Korean jail for assaulting several people before attempting to flee. His reported criminal conduct and his unauthorized border crossing further complicate the situation. North Korea is likely use King as a bargaining chip, prolonging negotiations. The strained relationship between North Korea and the U.S. adds the complexity. King fled on a day when the Biden administration was strengthening its alliance with South Korea, which included launching ballistic missiles and docking a nuclear submarine. The presence of the submarine was seen as a show military strength. The situation is considered embarrassing for the United States due to the lack of dialogue with North Korea.

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