American student in North Korean custody

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Otto Frederick Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia economics student, was reportedly seized at Pyongyang airport before his scheduled flight to China on January 2. The Korean-language state broadcaster KCNA said Warmbier “aimed to destroy the country’s unity” and was being “manipulated by the U.S. government.”

Unconfirmed reports from a passenger suggested the American was dragged away by armed guards. The witness also told the U.K.’s Independent daily that Warmbier’s tour group “were up until four or five in the morning drinking vodka and having fun.”

According to Adam Cathcart, a North Korea specialist at the University of Leeds, in England, while the post-detention treatment of individuals is always political and used for domestic and international propaganda, “the arrests themselves are usually triggered by behavior that the North Korean authorities can classify as illegal.”

Most recently these include Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for proselytizing, and Matthew Todd Miller, a 25-year-old American whom the North Koreans accused of espionage. Both were subsequently released.


This entry was posted in , by Grant Montgomery.

9 references to “American student in North Korean custody

  1. […] detention of Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia economics major who had chosen to spend his New Year’s […]

  2. […] a third-year business major at the University of Virginia, originally was detained on January 2 as he was about to board a plane and leave the country, according to Young Pioneer Tours, the […]

  3. […] for foreigners facing similar charges in North Korea are generally short and punishments severe. Warmbier was arrested as he tried to leave the country in early January. He was in North Korea with a New Year’s tour […]

  4. […] Korea’s highest court sentenced Warmbier, 21, to 15 years in prison after he confessed he tried to steal a propaganda banner as a […]

  5. […] Americans known to be detained in North Korea include Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March for trying to steal […]

  6. […] Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old college student at the University of Virginia, was detained in January …. He was sentenced in March for swiping the poster and for other unspecified “crimes against the state.” Washington has criticized the sentence as “unduly harsh.” […]

  7. […] An organization known for working to release prisoners and hostages sent a humanitarian mission to North Korea last month, which advocated for the release of university student Otto Warmbier. […]

  8. […] Kim Tong Chol is serving a 10-year prison term with hard labor, while University of Virginia undergraduate Otto Warmbier received 15 years over alleged anti-state activities such as espionage and […]

  9. […] President Donald Trump faced a bipartisan backlash after saying he did not believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was responsible for the death of American student Otto Warmbier. […]

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