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North Korean Tour Company Stops Trips After Otto Warmbier Dies

"Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died", his parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, wrote Monday. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor. His eyes opened and blinked but without any sign that he understood verbal commands or his surroundings.

Similarly, other North Korea tour agencies such as Koryo Tours and Uri Tours said this week that they were "reviewing" their policies for American citizens.

His parents told The Associated Press in a statement the day of his release that they wanted "the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime " and expressed relief he had been returned to "finally be with people who love him".

US and South Korean warplanes regularly conduct drills, but Tuesday's flights came shortly after the death of a USA college student who was recently released by North Korea in a coma following more than 17 months of captivity.

Another reading is that Warmbier's death may simply show a pattern of North Korean callousness and a lack of concern over diplomatic repercussions. American doctors found no indications that he had contracted botulism in the past. "It's a brutal regime, and we'll be able to handle it".

Korean-Americans Tony Kim and Kim Hak Song, who worked at the foreign-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, were recently detained for hostile acts against the government, according to North Korea's state media. The U.S. military said the bombers conducted drills with the Japanese and South Korean air forces, demonstrating solidarity with the U.S. allies.

Warmbier was among the estimated 5,000 non-Chinese who visit North Korea every year on packages that often include trips to Pyongyang, the capital, as well as the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, Mount Paektu and sometimes the Masik ski resort.

While Beijing may attempt to use such leverage to free Americans in the North, its influence is limited, said Jin Qianyi, a professor at Yanbian University's Institute of Northeast Asia Studies, which sits along the border with North Korea. North Korea has released 22-year-old U.S. student Otto Warmbier from a 15 year sentence of hard labor, officials said June 13, 2017, as former United States basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang. "The U.S. government should not just throw up its hands and say, 'This is just how North Korea is.' But how do you do that in a smart way where there is some modicum of accountability?" While almost all Americans who have been there have left without incident, visitors can be seized and face lengthy incarceration for what might seem like minor infractions.

However, the New York Times reports that a senior U.S. intelligence official said they have reason to believe Warmbier was beaten in custody.

The following year, Jeffrey Fowle, 56, admitted hiding a Korean bible in a social club in the northern port city of Chongjin, in defiance of a strict ban.

Pyongyang continued to test-fire missiles since South Korean leader Moon took office pledging to engage in dialogue with North Korea. He was released and sent home without charge after six months in custody.

South Korea's Blue House on Tuesday cited Moon separately as saying: "It is very deplorable that North Korea does not respect human rights". Now it has escalated to brutalizing Americans, including three other citizens currently imprisoned in North Korea.



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