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otto Warmbier

Tour group says it's done taking Americans to North Korea after death of Otto Warmbier

Following the death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier on Monday, the tour company that arranged his visit to North Korea announced it will stop taking American citizens to the country. 


The University of Virginia student was traveling in China when he signed up for Young Pioneer Tour's five-day trip to North Korea; while he was there, North Korea claimed he took a political poster from the hotel he was staying in, and Warmbier was locked up for this "hostile act." After spending 17 months in detention, Warmbier was released back to the U.S. on June 13, in a coma. Young Pioneer Tours sent USA Today an email calling Warmbier's death "devastating," adding, "There had not been any previous detainment in North Korea that has ended with such tragic finality, and we have been struggling to process the result. Now, the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high."

The company — which used the motto "we provide budget travel to destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from" — said they were told while Warmbier was in custody that he was fine, and because no information on his detention has been released, "we will no longer be organizing tours for U.S. citizens to North Korea." The United States does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea, and the State Department "strongly warns" against citizens traveling there.