Tour agency puts out new policy following Otto Warmbier’s death


Following the death of Otto Warmbier, who died after being released in a coma from detention in North Korea, the China tour agency that organized his trip to North Korea announced that it will no longer take Americans to the country.

In a Tuesday post on its Facebook page, Young Pioneer Tours noted that the death of Warmbier, 22, demonstrates that the risk American tourists take by visiting North Korea “has become too high.”

“The devastating loss of Otto Warmbier’s life has led us to reconsider our position on accepting American tourists,” the agency said, “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.”

According to USA Today, the company runs its North Korean tour out of Yangshuo, China. The tour, which begins and ends in Beijing, includes biking trips along the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea as well as scuba diving.

Warmbier’s death was announced by his family on Monday. Last week, doctors reported that he had sustained extensive brain damage and was unresponsive to his surroundings. Warmbier’s condition was classified as a “state of unresponsive wakefulness” by officials from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, which treated Warmbier upon his return.

Doctors noted that there was no physical evidence that Warmbier was beaten, yet he had experienced “extensive loss of brain tissue,” suggesting that the blood supply to his brain had been cut off for a period of time.

U.S. officials were told by the North Koreans that Warmbier had suffered from botulism and then became comatose after taking a sleeping pill, but Cincinnati doctors found no evidence of botulism during their examination of Warmbier.

Fox News reported that “Warmbier was medically evacuated from North Korea on June 13 following diplomatic talks at the top of the U.S. government. A former University of Virginia student, he was serving a 15-year sentence in North Korea for allegedly attempting to steal a banner containing a political phrase that was hanging from a wall in his Pyongyang hotel.”

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