world

U.S. student who was returned from North Korea in coma dies

53 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Thomson Reuters 2017.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

53 Comments
Login to comment

It has to be asked...

What in the world was this "student" doing in North Korea?

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

And so it goes. The tragic conclusion to essentially, a seemingly harmless act. Condolences to his family and friends. Could so easily have been avoided.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Sad ending to this misadventure. He didn't deserver this.

a seemingly harmless act.

Harmless? Tourists provide revenue and positive PR spin for a regime that daily tortures and rapes its citizens, including the children, threatens its neighbors with nuclear annihilation, kidnaps, murders and happily provides technical assistance to all manner of terrorists. Me? I would have trouble enjoying karaoke and cocktails knowing that I am giving face and money to that, and knowing that there were children not far away from me being imprisoned or beaten or destroyed by the people I am patronizing.

I am pretty sure most of these tourists don't think of that. It's just another fun experience seeing someplace that isn't "tainted" by mass tourism. Sad that even this is not enough to wake people up to the fact that this is anything but a harmless act. Visiting North Korea just for fun is a cruelly selfish act.

I think Otto was young and naive, but others who are older don't even have that excuse.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I wonder if kids today would be happy to visit Auschwitz while it held a working concentration camp. I don't see much difference.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Arresting and holding a foreign national for the crime described, returning him in this state is, as far as I'm concerned no different than those who kidnap and get off on heading. We are far too accommodating of the NKorean regime as well as their protector and benefactor China.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

commanteerToday07:14 am JST

I wonder if kids today would be happy to visit Auschwitz while it held a working concentration camp. I don't see much difference.

Then you should probably try to see the world with more complexity. For starters, though DPRK is a brutal dictatorship where human rights are scarce to non-existent, the entire country is not a death camp.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Regardless of what people think of this young man's choice to visit North Korea, nothing justifies him being murdered by the North Korean government.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Katsu78: it depends if you are a guard or internee.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Kim Jong Un acted on his humanitarian instinct none too soon. Pity it took him a year to locate it.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Sad story. Definitely a country where you will want to follow the stated rules 100% if/when visiting.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

My question is, what on Earth did they do to that kid? Very, very sad for the family, my heart goes out to anyone that loses a child, can't imagine

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I wonder if kids today would be happy to visit Auschwitz while it held a working concentration camp. I don't see much difference.

Tend to agree. Reminds me of war tourist Haruna Yukawa who thought visiting Syria was a great idea. Or disaster tourists--here's my selfie in front of a coastal town where hundreds died. "Cheese!" I would love to visit Tibet, but I'll be damned if my $/yen are going to fill Beijing's coffers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It hurts to read that such a young, full of life man died this way. Away from home, friends, surrounded by people who saw him as "the enemy". What have they done to his body to make him comatose, one wonders. RIP. Sad...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Very sad.

Many naive people visit areas that are dangerous, and unfortunately they just don't fully realize the danger they are in until it is too late.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

From what I've read, about 20% of his brain had died, a phenomenon associated with prolonged asphyxia. Perhaps they'd strangled him or held his head under water.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

RIP

3 ( +3 / -0 )

All that and for what? Stealing a poster. Very sad. Not excusing what the kid did, but definitely the NK went beyond overboard and they know it. For them it was all about the optics, message and a bit of self-gratification of being able to do this to an American.

Pathetic!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

though DPRK is a brutal dictatorship where human rights are scarce to non-existent, the entire country is not a death camp.

You are grasping at straws there. So you would be OK with eating, drinking and singing karaoke at an establishment that is serviced and built upon the labor of present-day slaves? As long as you are not actually eating inside the death camp? That's kind of like people who can eat meat only as long they pretend that slaughterhouses don't exist.

It's not all that complex.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Terrible. He wasn't released on humanitarian grounds, NK were scared of him dying in their custody. At least his parents got to see him again, albeit in tragic circumstances.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

commanteerToday10:00 am JST

You are grasping at straws there. So you would be OK with eating, drinking and singing karaoke at an establishment that is serviced and built upon the labor of present-day slaves? As long as you are not actually eating inside the death camp? That's kind of like people who can eat meat only as long they pretend that slaughterhouses don't exist.

Maybe he wasn't one of those blinded by the general propaganda and wanted to make his own opinion, see what was going on first-hand.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Yes, I learned of his passing away on radio this morning. Very sad. We equally share the grief of the bereaved family. RIP.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Maybe he wasn't one of those blinded by the general propaganda and wanted to make his own opinion, see what was going on first-hand.

Sad to say, but he found out first hand.

Death for petty larceny.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

RIP. Notice the media doesn't report the real reason he was arrested. It was an intentional political crime. His family had financial difficulties and his church asked him to steal the property and bring it back to his church. He was offered $20000 if not caught and $200000 to his family if caught. He was caught stealing it in a staff level where he had no rightful access. S Korean evangelical Christians are engaged in trying to overthrow the despicable N Korean regime, so this is very serious crime in N Korea.

Imagine if an IS supporter did a public tour of the White House, sneaked off and stole trumps ball point pen and took it back to their hell hole as a trophy? Would the US just say "go on, get out of here kid"...

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Mr Warmbier (from what I've read ) stole the sign from part of the hotel where guests were off limits. Also, the idea to bring back to the US some North Korean momento was given to him by someone in his hometown i.e. he entered North Korea with that criminal intention.

By no means do I support the result of his incarceration.

It is a sad and tragic result.

However, it is very evident to anyone visiting North Korea that the US has been responsible for bombing,spying and other acts which have caused loss of life to North Korean citizens.

The North Koreans have these historical facts drummed into them periodically.

For Warmbier to potentially wish to offend the North Koreans in spite of the reality of extremely high anti American sentiment seems unbelievable.

And at his trial he mentioned that he felt that he had made a dire mistake.

RIP

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Such a tragic end. But it all could've been avoided if he simply didn't go to NK, nevermind the fact that he stole something there. There are speculations that he was water-boarded, something that we are all quite familiar with.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

GoodlucktoyouToday11:09 am JST

RIP. Notice the media doesn't report the real reason he was arrested.[...]

Is this real, do you have serious sources for that ? Could change the story quite a lot...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Could change the story quite a lot...

No, the story is simple.

Death for petty theft.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

viking68Today01:02 pm JST

Could change the story quite a lot...

No, the story is simple.

Sorry I meant the story we've being served in the media outside NK. Obvisouly travelling to NK with the goal of robbing anything is indescribably stupid.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Reminds me of war tourist Haruna Yukawa who thought visiting Syria was a great idea.

I was reminded of the young Japanese man who visited Iraq shortly after the war, maybe 11 or 12 years ago. He didn't even have a hotel. He was quickly kidnapped by Al Qaeda in Iraq and ended up the subject of a gory propaganda video.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The article did not say, but was he the kid who had tried to smuggle a propaganda poster out of the country in spite of being warned against it? He should have known better. An insane dictatorship like that that is running massive concentration camps is not a playground of spoiled Western kids to do student pranks in.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Animals.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

ThePBot "There are speculations that he was water-boarded..."

And some people still think that water boarding is not real torture.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A 22 yr old has had his life cut short. His mistake? pilfering a STUPID plaque,possibly as a keepsake, and in no way do I mean to condone such behavior,but it's something students do the world over. To take away a life for a STUPID plaque is unconscionable. Afterall, they still have it ( the plaque) in NK. My heart bleeds for the Wambier family.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I really can't see the attraction of going to NK on holiday.  Even less so now.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

About 15 years ago I went to the DMZ twice, it's kind of a tense feeling that's for sure. I'll never forget when I was filming, I was filming a North Korean soldier sitting on a watchtower using his binoculars eying me me back, the tour guide told to stop immediately because there's no guarantee they would shoot because they are so unpredictable. Well, let's say, I put the camera down quickly. The NK have such hate on their faces when they look at you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Heartbreaking.

But also Darwinism.

If anyone else out there is stupid enough for a trip to NK, you know what potentially awaits - especially if you're a US citizen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If anyone else out there is stupid enough for a trip to NK, you know what potentially awaits - especially if you're a US citizen.

I'm sure DPRK folks are often told the same about the US.

Trips to the country are regulated and usually the visitors are expressly told what is allowed and what is forbidden, this poor lad veered away from the rules and possibly had little education as to what the regime entails. It doesn't excuse the circus of a trial and his appaling treatment, of course.

If you are sensible and have any diplomacy about you, such unsual trips should be a highlight of travelling, not a nightmare.

I was filming a North Korean soldier sitting on a watchtower using his binoculars eying me me back, the tour guide told to stop immediately because there's no guarantee they would shoot because they are so unpredictable. Well, let's say, I put the camera down quickly.

If the tour guide was competent; he or she would have prepped you before the tour of the area. You should not be filming certain areas, especially if its a tense moment in relations in the region. As I said elsewhere on a DPRK thread - when I was there, it was repeatedly hammered home to us that there was to be no cameras, pointing or filming on that day. Repeatedly. And yet, there were still a bunch who decided to ignore that warning.

The NK have such hate on their faces when they look at you.

Speak for yourself. Although, if you were unprepared enough to even contemplate such a basic faux pas, it doesn't surprise me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

bass4funk: About 15 years ago I went to the DMZ twice, it's kind of a tense feeling that's for sure.

Yes, I went there about 12 years ago myself and I can relate to the feeling. In my group, an elderly Japanese man started to wander off from the group. He only took about 2 steps before the one 6 foot something U.S. soldier reached over, grabbed with a massive hand, and yanked him back in line.

I can't see why anyone would want to visit North Korea. It is a dictatorial military state. This kid stole a plaque, but they really don't need a reason to lock you away for 15 years hard labour. Truth isn't one of the weapons in their arsenal. You really have to feel sorry for this kid and his family for what happened to him. I do wonder, though, whether this was a supervised group trip, and who was supposed to be looking after them...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I can't see why anyone would want to visit North Korea. It is a dictatorial military state.

Probably one of the reasons why. It's fascinating. Why do explorers go to some of the most dangerous places on earth? Or scientists, or journalists? The allure of the unknown, the unquantifiable, the mysterious, the "other"...

Surely it's human nature to be intrigued by such an enigma, no matter how reprehensible it may be?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We tend not to believe anything North Korea says anyways so how do we know he did anything they said he did? Just the fact that he is American could have landed him in jail as others before him.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If the tour guide was competent; he or she would have prepped you before the tour of the area. 

The problem wasn't the filming, the problem was keeping the camera too long fixated on the tower I was staring, that drew attention and that was the problem.

You should not be filming certain areas, especially if its a tense moment in relations in the region. As I said elsewhere on a DPRK thread - when I was there, it was repeatedly hammered home to us that there was to be no cameras, pointing or filming on that day. Repeatedly. And yet, there were still a bunch who decided to ignore that warning.

Well, our guide said, it was ok to film, have lots of great footage, but the blatant gazing at them should be avoided, so I heeded her warnings, but it was still a surreal feeling being there and looking at all the prop buildings they use for propaganda.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

TToasted,

IIve travelled enough to know where I don't want to go, even though there are many places I will visit if I get to be old and bored.

PPersonally I think you'd have to be out of your mind to visit NK. It's top of the list of places I never want to go, just pipping the Sudan and of course Wales....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

We tend not to believe anything North Korea says anyways so how do we know he did anything they said he did? Just the fact that he is American could have landed him in jail as others before him.

The authorities there usually have their reasons. However unsound and odd they tend to be. He should have received a caution or at most, been deported home. He in no way deserved the showcase trial he got.

Understanding the motivations of the DPRK regime can be tricky work, you have competing factions at work. One could be pursuing international recognition and/or dialogue and another could be deciding to show the West it's might by locking up a kid for nicking a poster. There are a myriad of different agendas going on in the country, be it Kim loyalists, military, party careerists, internationalists, moderates etc...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ive travelled enough to know where I don't want to go, even though there are many places I will visit if I get to be old and bored.PPersonally I think you'd have to be out of your mind to visit NK. It's top of the list of places I never want to go, just pipping the Sudan and of course Wales....

No worries! I'm comfortable with my travel lunacy. I'm only here for a finite time on this planet and I want to make the most of it before I get too decrepit.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If only Kim Jong Un had known ...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Denis Rodman is visiting N K.  Years ago, Gloria Allred visited, She walked demlitary zone from n to s.  sorry to this person but damaging propaganda paper is dangerous.  Did he get permission of his father to go Asia?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

We are far too accommodating of the NKorean regime as well as their protector and benefactor China.

And what do you recommend, tough guy?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It costs money to travel to China and to N Korea beside getting passport.  He was a student.  Where he got money?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Black SabbathToday06:15 am JSTWe are far too accommodating of the NKorean regime as well as their protector and benefactor China.

And what do you recommend, tough guy?

Start squeezing China economically. Not just talk like Trump but seriously threaten what he was barking during the election. Make it not worth it for them to keep the Kim regime going. NKorea's current path needs to be stopped while it still has a chance. Black SabbathToday06:15 am JSTWe are far too accommodating of the NKorean regime as well as their protector and benefactor China.

And what do you recommend, tough guy?

China needs to be seriously squeezed economically. Do the things that Trump was barking during the campaign. Make it not worth it for China to keep supporting the Kim regime. They have the ability to cut off all energy to the country (90%) and bring it to it's knees. They just don't want to. Make them want to. Doesn't take any "toughness" to figure this out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

goodlucktoyou:

Imagine if an IS supporter did a public tour of the White House, sneaked off and stole trumps ball point pen and took it back to their hell hole as a trophy? Would the US just say "go on, get out of here kid"...

He would be released after a comfortable short detainment, and the media would be gushing with sympathy for him. He certainly would no return in a body bag. Thanks for pointing out the difference.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Imagine if an IS supporter did a public tour of the White House, sneaked off and stole trumps ball point pen and took it back to their hell hole as a trophy? Would the US just say "go on, get out of here kid"...

This is not a very good analogy. He was in a hotel, not the office of the head of state, and he stole a poster, not a pen owned by the head of state.

If someone from the DPRK stole a pen bearing a patriotic slogan from the staff room of a Washington, DC hotel, even if the staff room had a "No Entry" sign on it, yes, "go on, get out of here, kid" sounds pretty much correct. The hotel might even let him keep the pen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The sad end of a young student who has underestimated the power of Korean communism. Nuclear plots scare. Of course condolences for the family. North Korea from the young supports the children blind obedience to the leader. Small country in China and so painfully able to hit

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 Why do explorers go to some of the most dangerous places on earth? Or scientists, or journalists?

You do like to flatter yourself, don't you? Tell me one productive reason you went to North Korea. One reason that outweighs the financial and propaganda support you gave to those who enslave and torture women and children as a matter of policy? Bragging rights?

When the truth comes out and the regime finally falls, those who went there as voyeurs will be despised.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites