Story By Mark Cistaro, Reporter
Photo courtesy of Scoopnest
On January 22, the United States received news that Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia college student from Cincinnati, never left North Korea on January 2 as had been scheduled by the Young Pioneer Tours, the China based travel company he used, but instead was delayed and arrested for “hostile acts” (as North Korea so phrases it) at the airport as he was going through customs. He was apparently visiting there as part of a New Year’s vacation. The Swedish Embassy is in negotiations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to obtain Warmbier’s release, according to CNN.
The U.S. is hoping to have him back soon, as the US Department of State, Warmbier’s family, and the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs are working together with the Embassy to let Warmbier walk free. The United States will not give any more information due to “privacy considerations,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said.
However, this is not the first time North Korea has been responsible for this sort of thing. They have arrested or detained 10 other people, all American, since 1996. Kim Dong Chul, Jeffrey Edward Fowle, Kenneth Bae, Matthew Todd Miller, Merrill Newman, Laura Ling, Euna Lee, Aijalon Gomes, Eddie Yong Su Jun, Robert Park, Evan Hunziker are several citizens who have been reportedly arrested or detained in the Foreign Policy and CNN reports on arrests made by the DRPK. Many of these people are journalists, tourists, or just ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A couple of suspects have also done things to grant suspicion or questioning, however, but not for the length of time North Korea is withholding them. North Korea has actually sentenced one man to 15 years of hard labor just on the grounds of “hostile acts” that DPRK claims to have been the recipient of. However, as the DPRK has yet to show any hard evidence to the USA, considering most of the “evidence” has been confessions coerced from the arrested American citizens visiting North Korea.
The United States of America, whether we fully realize it or not, is still at war with North Korea. There is only a cessation of hostilities put down by the Korean Armistice. North Korea has actually announced that it will not abide by the armistice six different times, the latest being in 2013.They have been known to use tactics contrary to what many would say is humanitarian and ethical.
You have been warned. The United States already has too much within its own borders, so carefully choose your destinations as to not cause international conflicts. If you are planning your next vacation destination, just remember to abide the laws of the country you are visiting, and North Korea is not exactly on the top of the best destinations to go to list.