The US soldier who illegally crossed the heavily armed border into North Korea from South Korea is back in American custody, an official has told Sky News.
North Korea had said earlier on Wednesday that it planned to deport the US soldier.
But now an American official has said Travis King has been transferred to US custody in China.
The 23-year-old serviceman had been due to fly back to the US a week before he fled to North Korea.
He had been expecting to face disciplinary action over a confrontation with local police that landed him in Korean custody for one month and a half, according to a South Korean government official.
But instead of getting on a plane at Incheon, near Seoul, to fly to Texas, Private King apparently slipped away and joined the private tour group at the DMZ – before crossing the border without permission.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Wednesday that North Korean authorities have finished their questioning of King.
It said he confessed to illegally entering the North because he harboured “ill feeling against inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination” within the US Army.
He was also “disillusioned about the unequal US society,” KCNA added.
The agency did not say when authorities plan to expel King from the country and verifying the authenticity of the comments attributed to King is impossible.
He is the first American to be detained in North Korea for almost five years.
Several US soldiers stationed in South Korea have attempted to desert or defect to North Korea, but King’s expulsion came relatively quickly compared to others who have spent years there before being released from the reclusive state.
In an interview last month with The Associated Press, Mr King’s mother, Claudine Gates, said her son had “so many reasons” to want to come home.
“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,” she said.
In July, King’s sister said he was “not the type to get into trouble“.
Jaqueda Gates told NBC News: “This is crazy. I was just talking to him, literally 48 hours ago (before the DMZ incident).
“My brother, he’s not the type to get into trouble like that. It all just sounds made up.”