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SEOUL — Officials are investigating a man who allegedly deserted the U.S. Army then joined the South Korean army, a U.S. Forces Korea spokesman confirmed Thursday.

The soldier, identified in news reports only as a 26-year-old man named Kim, joined the U.S. Army in 2003 in a bid to receive U.S. citizenship, South Korean Ministry of National Defense officials confirmed.

When Kim learned he was slated for a deployment to Iraq with the U.S. Army, he returned to South Korea in 2005 and joined the army here, the official confirmed.

The soldier “who had allegedly deserted the U.S. Army voluntarily turned himself in to U.S. military officials last week, reportedly with the knowledge of his ROK army superiors,” according to a USFK statement. “He is currently at his ROK army unit while U.S. military officials investigate the matter.”

The USFK statement said the coordination is to be made with the Republic of Korea army after the investigation is completed.

The MND spokesman said Kim remains on duty with the 25th Infantry Division. He is not under confinement, but is carrying out his normal daily mission, the spokesman said.

“This is very complicated case even in terms of international law since Private Kim is a Korean solider as well as an American deserter,” the MND spokesman said.

“So far the concrete solution has not come out yet, but we are consulting … this matter with U.S military authorities.”

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