US declines to declare Army Pvt. Travis King was a prisoner-of-war while being held in North Korea, according to a report

The U.S. has decided not to invoke prisoner of war status for Army Pvt. Travis King after he bolted into North Korea last month.

The United States have declined to classify Army Sgt. Travis King is a prisoner-of-war, since he remains in North Korea despite having crossed into the repressive country last month.

Reuters, the first to report the decision, stated that King may not be entitled the protections afforded to POWs by the Geneva Convention. Fox News Digital reached out to Pentagon.

Officials in the United States have stated that bringing King home is a priority.


This family photo shows an American soldier Travis King’s portrait displayed at the home Carl Gates on Wednesday, July 19th, 2023 in Kenosha. Wis. On July 18, King sprinted into North Korea on a tour through the Demilitarized zone, a day before he was due to fly to a U.S. base. (Family photo via AP).

A Pentagon spokesperson told Reuters that “Private king must be treated humanely, in accordance with the international law.”

A second official told the news outlet the U.S. might call King a prisoner of war at a future date. North Korea and the U.S. both signed the Third Geneva Convention which protects prisoners of war. The Third Geneva Convention includes standards for treatment of captives and their medical needs. It also allows prisoners to communicate with their families.

Officials have confirmed that King, 23 “willingly”, crossed into North Korea while on a tour of the Demilitarized Zone, separating North Korea and South Korea. After a bloody war between the two nations, both Koreas signed an armistice back in 1953.

span data-1fd77e21 =””>An assortment of tourists stands near a border post at Panmunjom, in the Demilitarized Zone, in Paju, South Korea on July 18, 2018. King crossed the border not long after the photo was taken and became the only American known to be detained in North Korea in almost five years. (AP/Sarah Jane Leslie)

King was to fly from South Korea, to Fort Bliss in Texas, to face disciplinary procedures after serving a brief jail sentence on assault charges. He was in South Korea at the time.

He skipped the flight and instead joined the tour group at the DMZ where he sprinted across the border.

Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder confirmed that “the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] has responded to United Nations Command.”

Ryder stated, “I will tell you that, as we have said previously, United Nations Command communicated or provided some communication through well-established communication channels.”

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