NATIONAL NEWS

Mother of Army private in North Korea tells AP that her son ‘has so many reasons to come home’

Aug 23, 2023, 2:52 PM

FILE - A portrait of American soldier Travis King is displayed as his grandfather, Carl Gates, talk...

FILE - A portrait of American soldier Travis King is displayed as his grandfather, Carl Gates, talks about his grandson on July 19, 2023, in Kenosha, Wis. The Biden administration is extending for another year a ban on the use of U.S. passports for travel to North Korea, the State Department said Tuesday. The latest extension comes as tensions with North Korea are rising over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and the uncertain status of Travis King, a U.S. service member who last month entered the country through its heavily armed border. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. Army private who mysteriously sprinted across the border into North Korea last month has “so many reasons to come home,” his mother said Wednesday as she cast doubt on a recent statement that suggested her son, Travis King, might be seeking refuge there or in a third country.

Claudine Gates spoke to The Associated Press one week after North Korea released the statement through its state media in which it confirmed for the first time that it had detained the soldier and attributed comments to him criticizing the United States.

“I just can’t see him ever wanting to just stay in Korea when he has family in America. He has so many reasons to come home,” Gates, from Racine, Wisconsin, said.

King, 23, had served in South Korea and sprinted into North Korea while on a civilian tour of a border village on July 18. U.S. officials have said they are working to get him home.

The official Korean Central News Agency said King, who is Black, had said he decided to enter North Korea because he “harbored ill feelings against inhuman mistreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. Army.” The report also said that King had said he “was disillusioned at the unequal American society” and had expressed his willingness to seek refuge in North Korea or a third country.

U.S. officials last week said they were unable to verify the comments attributed to him, while White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters to “consider the source.” KCNA is the official voice of leader Kim Jong Un’s government and its content reflects North Korea’s official line that the United States is an evil adversary.

Gates, in the interview with AP, said she had never heard her son express the sentiments attributed to him.

“My son, he was proud to be American. He’s not even a racist type of person. That’s why I can’t see him saying that,” she said. But she added that “I was kind of told that he said a little something like that to his uncles” and that “their approach with him was a little different than me. I’m mom.”

Gates said she remains perplexed by her son’s actions. Birthdays are major milestones in the family, she said, and she couldn’t imagine her son willfully missing an opportunity to speak with her on July 26, her birthday.

She noted that in the months before his dash across the border to North Korea, he had become significantly less communicative than in his early days in the Army. Family members have previously said that he may have felt overwhelmed as he faced legal troubles and his possible looming discharge from the military.

King was supposed to be returned to the U.S. to face military discipline after serving nearly two months in a South Korea prison on assault charges. But instead of boarding a flight for Texas, as planned, King slipped away and quietly joined a civilian tour group headed for the Demilitarized Zone, which divides South and North Korea.

No matter the issue, Gates said, talking directly to her son, “I’m not mad at you, Travis. I just want you to come home. He has a whole life ahead of him. He’s still a young man. I just want my baby home.”

_____

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

National News

Associated Press

All Oneboard electric skateboards are under recall after 4 deaths and serious injury reports

NEW YORK (AP) — All models of Onewheel self-balancing electric skateboards are under recall after at least four deaths and multiple injuries were reported in recent years, federal regulators said last week. The 300,000 now-recalled skateboards, manufactured by the California-based Future Motion, can stop balancing a rider if the boards’ limits are exceeded — which […]

14 minutes ago

Associated Press

Search resumes for missing 9-year-old girl who vanished during camping trip in upstate New York park

MOREAU, N.Y. (AP) — Law enforcement, forest rangers and others resumed searching an upstate New York park on Monday for a 9-year-old girl who vanished during a camping trip over the weekend. Charlotte Sena may have been abducted while riding her bicycle Saturday evening in Moreau Lake State Park, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) north […]

18 minutes ago

Associated Press

$1.04 billion Powerball jackpot tempts players to brave long odds

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An estimated $1.04 billion Powerball jackpot will be up for grabs Monday night, tempting players to spend a couple dollars on a longshot chance at instant riches. The prize is the world’s ninth-largest lottery prize behind earlier drawings of Powerball and Mega Millions, the other nearly nationwide lottery game. The […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

US expands probe into Ford engine failures to include two motors and nearly 709,000 vehicles

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto safety investigators have expanded a probe into Ford Motor Co. engine failures to include nearly 709,000 vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also said in documents posted Monday on its website that it upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis, a step closer to a recall. The investigation now […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Car drives through fence at airport, briefly disrupting operations, officials say

A car crashed through a fence at Maine’s busiest airport, traveled on a service road alongside a runway and then was abandoned, causing a brief disruption, officials said. The episode unfolded Sunday morning at Portland International Jetport, when the abandoned sedan was spotted after it had crashed into a second fence in a secure area […]

3 hours ago

File - The Southern University Human Jukebox marching band warms up before the 2023 National Battle...

Associated Press

Federal student loan payments are starting again. Here’s what you need to know

Federal student loan borrowers will need to start making payments again this month after a three-year-plus pause due to the pandemic.

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Mother of Army private in North Korea tells AP that her son ‘has so many reasons to come home’