(Update: recasts with Austin remarks)
Washington/Seoul, Jul 18 (EFE).- The Pentagon has confirmed that a man who was detained by North Korean authorities on Tuesday after he crossed the border from South Korea is a United States soldier.
“One of our service members who was on a tour willfully and without authorization crossed the military demarcation line,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told a press conference in Washington DC. “We believe that he is in (North Korean) custody.”
Austin said that officials were working to notify the soldier’s family, and that they were closely monitoring the situation.
“I am absolutely foremost concerned about the welfare of our troop,” he added.
The soldier allegedly crossed the border during a visit to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Joint Security Area (JSA) between North and South Korea, a UN-controlled military unit that oversees the shared border zone said.
The JSA is the only spot along the DMZ where soldiers from both countries stand face to face.
In 2017 a North Korean soldier staged a spectacular escape and became one of the few to cross the JSA into South Korea. The soldier sprinted across the border under close-range gunfire and survived the ordeal despite sustaining several gunshot wounds.
In 1984 a student from the former Soviet Union crossed into South Korea during a tour, prompting an exchange of fire between troops on both sides of the border that resulted in the deaths of three North Korean soldiers, one South Korean and one from the UN Command.EFE