Otto Warmbier (incredible name but that’s not important right now), a 21-year-old student at the University of Virginia and member of the Theta Chi fraternity, was arrested at the Pyongyang airport as he was about to board a plane to leave after a five-day trip via an agency called Young Pioneer Tours. He is currently being detained. This occurred just four days before North Korea conducted the nuclear test that grabbed international headlines.
The short version of the reason for his arrest and detainment is that he was accused of “hostile acts.” The longer version, per a released statement by the Korean Central News Agency, sounds a bit more serious. And low-key pretty badass.
From the Washington Post:
The brief statement gave no details about the accusations or the current status of the student.
Warmbier, it added, “was arrested while perpetrating a hostile act against the DPRK after entering it under the guise of tourist for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single-minded unity at the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.”
Basically, they’re accusing a 21-year-old kid who wears fuchsia pants and croakies of being a spy for the United States government who vacayed to North Korea in an attempt to overthrow communism. Nice, dude.
It’s unclear what they’re accusing Warmbier of actually doing inside the airport to warrant suspicion, or if he was even doing anything to justifiably land on the radar of government officials.
Also of note, Young Pioneer Tours, the agency Warmbier used to travel to Pyongyang, miiiiiight want to update their website, particularly the part about traveling to North Korea being just a totally chill vacay that travelers have nothing to worry about. They even call it “extremely safe” and describe North Koreans as “super friendly and accommodating.” Ha, k.
But in the frequently asked questions on its website, Young Pioneers answers a question about safety in North Korea by saying: “Extremely safe!”
“Despite what you may hear, North Korea is probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit. Tourism is very welcomed in North Korea, thus tourists are cherished and well taken care of,” the travel agency says.
“We have never felt suspicious or threatened at any time. In fact, North Koreans are super friendly and accommodating, if you let them into your world. Even during tense political moments tourism to the DPRK is never affected,” the site said.
They left out the part about Kim Jong-un just being a total sweetheart.
We’ll update this story as details unfold, and we’re obviously hoping that Otto returns home safely in the very near future..
[via Washington Post]
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