Low paid Private 2nd Class (PV2) Travis King, 23, crossed from South Korea into the North after joining a Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) border tour.
At the time he was being escorted back to the US, reportedly to face disciplinary action, but he seems to have given his escort the slip at customs at Incheon Airport instead of boarding a flight.
He then made his way out of the terminal to the border crossing about 54km (34 miles) away.
An eyewitness on the same border tour described hearing the soldier laughing loudly before making a run.
Two years after pandemic aid ended, homelessness in cities and states across the U.S. is on the rise.
Organizations that count homeless people have seen increases in the number of unsheltered individuals compared with 2022, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Roughly 421,400 people were homeless in the U.S. last year, and 127,750 of them were chronically homeless, meaning they didn’t have a place to stay for a year or more, according to National Alliance to End Homelessness data. Homelessness rates have been climbing nationally by about 6% every year since 2017, the alliance said.
The increase in the number of people without a place to live comes amid soaring housing costs and rising prices for essentials like food and transportation. The federal government sent $817 billion in stimulus payments to Americans, according to a New York Times estimate, but that lifeline ended in March 2021.
To be sure, the official 2023 homeless tally won’t be exact because people who are homeless don’t gather in one setting for an easy roll call, Wall Street Journal reporter Shannon Najmabadi told CBS News.
“It’s very difficult to count the number of people who are unsheltered, living in cars or couch surfing, in the woods or on properties that’s difficult to access,” she said.
Major cities avoided a tidal wave of homelessness during the pandemic because the federal government offered emergency rental relief, eviction moratoriums, stimulus checks and other pandemic-era aid. However, with those protections now vanished, financially challenged Americans face daunting housing prices, with the national median sales price at $441,000 and the median rental costing $2,000 a month as of May.
California has dominated most the national conversation about the rise in homelessness. An estimated 171,000 Californians — or 30% of all unsheltered people in the U.S. — are homeless. San Diego County alone saw its homeless count rise to 10,264 — a 22% increase from last year, the Journal reported.
A University of California, San Francisco study released Tuesday found that high housing costs and low income are fueling the homeless crisis in the Golden State. California’s homeless problem is so intense that Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass this week announced plans to eliminate L.A. street homelessness by 2026, first by declaring a state of emergency and then by moving unsheltered individuals into hotels and motels.
“My goal would be, really, to end street homelessness,” she told CNN on Sunday. “There’ll still be people in shelters and interim housing, but at least we’ll not have people dying on our streets.”