Published on Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Otto Warmbier's tour operator ends North Korea trips for Americans

The tour operator that organized travel to North Korea for University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier will no longer book Americans on its tours.

Warmbier was repatriated last week in a coma and died yesterday.

He had been jailed in North Korea for what authorities called 'a hostile act.'

China based Young Pioneer Tours told USA TODAY: "The devastating loss of Otto Warmbier's life has led us to reconsider our position on accepting American tourists. 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 way his detention was handled was appalling, and a tragedy like this must never be repeated. Despite constant requests, we were denied any opportunity to meet him or anyone in contact with him in Pyongyang, only receiving assurances that he was fine," the company added.

"Considering these facts and this tragic outcome we will no longer be organizing tours for US citizens to North Korea."

Young Pioneer Tours sends groups from Beijing overland into North Korea on a variety of itineraries throughout the country although all are strictly controlled by authorities.

The US State Department has long warned US citizens against travel to North Korea.

It says 16 Americans have been detained in the last decade and a US lawmaker recently urged the government to impose an official ban on Americans traveling to the country.


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