US troopers arrested after crossing border into North Korea

A South Korean soldier guards the border with North Korea in Panmunjom on December 3, 2019.

Stephan Schulz Image Alliance via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Tuesday it was aware that a US serviceman “deliberately” and “without authorization” crossed the inter-Korean border and is currently in North Korean custody.

US authorities are working with the North Korean military “to investigate this incident,” Colonel Isaac Taylor, spokesman for US forces Korea, said in a statement.

The person toured the Joint Security Area (JSA), a site in Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone used by North and South Korea for diplomatic engagements and negotiations. It is divided by the Military Demarcation Line, also known as the Armistice Line, which serves as the boundary between the two territories. Both private companies and the United Nations organize tours of the JSA.

The identity of the military member will be released upon notification of the next of kin.

A State Department spokesman directed questions to the Pentagon. The spokesman said the State Department is “in touch with colleagues in the Defense Department to provide any appropriate assistance.”

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The US and North Korea do not currently have formal diplomatic relations. The State Department advises US citizens not to travel to North Korea “due to the continued high risk of arrest and long-term detention.”

The incident happened on the same day that a US nuclear submarine visited South Korea for the first time since the 1980s and arrived at the port of Busan, according to US forces in South Korea.

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