The chair of the House Foreign Affairs panel said Sunday he’s worried about the American soldier who crossed last week into North Korea.
“I think he was running from his problems,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told host Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.” “That was the wrong place to go. But, you know, we see this with Russia, China, Iran. When they take an American, particularly a soldier, captive they exact a price for that. And that’s what I worry about.”
Army Pvt. 2nd Class Travis King crossed into North Korea on Tuesday via the Demilitarized Zone “willfully and without authorization,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday.
The 23-year-old cavalry scout from Wisconsin had recently been imprisoned in a military detention facility in connection with an assault case in Seoul. According to published reports, King also damaged a South Korean police vehicle.
“He was facing disciplinary charges and was going to fly back to the United States. But, instead, he did not board the plane, went with a tour group to the DMZ and then ran across the line,” McCaul said of King.
The 2.5-mile-wide DMZ, which has existed since a truce in the Korean War was reached in 1953, is one of the world’s most volatile border areas.
Raddatz pointed out that the King situation occurred at a particularly sensitive time in terms of that region of Asia. North Korea launched cruise missiles Saturday, its second-such launch within a week.
The launches have been seen as a response to the docking of an American nuclear submarine in South Korea, a presumed demonstration of U.S. resolve in the face of aggression by North Korea and China.
“I think projecting strength right now is important for deterrence,” McCall told Raddatz. “You know, as you note, it’s the first time in four decades we’ve had this deployment of submarines. And I think it’s a projection of strength that we need right now to deter aggression.”
As for King, McCaul said was concerned about his well-being.
“I’m sure that he’s not being treated very well. I think it was a serious mistake on his part and I hope we can get him back,” he said.