The U.S. Army private who crossed the border into North Korea over the summer has been repatriated.
In a statement on Wednesday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said King was in U.S. custody.
“U.S. officials have secured the return of Private Travis King from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We appreciate the dedication of the interagency team that has worked tirelessly out of concern for Private King’s wellbeing,” Sullivan said. “In addition, we thank the government of Sweden for its diplomatic role serving as the protecting power for the United States in the DPRK and the government of the People’s Republic of China for its assistance in facilitating the transit of Private King.”
As ABC News reported, a Sweden representative in North Korea assisted with transporting King into China, where a U.S. official was waiting for him.
The 23-year-old cavalry scout defected into North Korea while on a Joint Security Area guided tour. Before crossing the border, he was expected to return to the U.S. after spending time in a detention facility for about two months after being accused of assault.
KCNA, a North Korean media outlet, reported that the probe into King had been completed, and officials “decided to expel him.”
“According to the investigation by a relevant organ of the DPRK, Travis King confessed that he illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK as he harbored ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination within the U.S. army and was disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society,” the outlet alleged he said.
Officials worked to bring King home while his family grappled with the uncertainty. In previous interviews, his mother, Claudine Gates, has opened up about the emotional toll the situation had on her.
According to CNN, a family representative said she’s “forever grateful” for the push to ensure her son’s return.
Per the outlet, a U.S. official confirmed that King is “in good health and good spirits” and was “very happy to be on his way home.”