To North Korea and back: Otto Warmbier's strange, sad trip

To North Korea and back: Otto Warmbier's strange, sad trip

In the US, Fred Warmbier echoed Washington's denials that Rodman's visit to Pyongyang had anything to do with the sudden release of his sick son.

When it works, "it's a brilliant propaganda coup", for the regime, he said.

But upon his release, Warmbier was revealed to have been in a coma since March 2016, a condition that North Korea's government said was due to taking a sleeping pill after he contracted botulism.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson is demanding answers from Pyongyang after an American held prisoner in North Korea for more than year was returned to the U.S.in a coma last week. "This is pretty much what happened in this case", Lankov said.

Rodman was on two seasons of Trump's Celebrity Apprentice reality TV show.

Otto Frederick Warmbier, a student from the University of Virginia, was arrested on February 2, "while executing an enemy action against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea", the North Korean state news agency KCNA announced in January. Upon arriving in his home state of OH on Tuesday, the 22-year-old was taken straight to University of Cincinnati Medical Center where doctors said he suffered severe tissue loss in his brain.

Warmbier suffered severe brain damage while in custody.

U.S. officials repeatedly said Rodman was travelling to North Korea as a private citizen, despite speculation he was working as an unofficial emissary for Trump. "And that deal has got to involve a reduction of their missile activity - termination of that, possibly - and in exchange, China, U.S., Russia, all of us, have got to probably give them some food, some energy assistance - I think eventually diplomacy".

Rodman has a controversial history on the subject of Americans detained in North Korea.

But "what this accumulation of detainees reveals is that North Korea is a unsafe place, it is easy to step over some line", Haggard said, adding he was increasingly in favor of a tourism ban because the "hostages" were a liability for the US government.

Former prisoners like Bae have spoken of long days of hard work, medical problems and emotional and verbal abuse, but other detainees have reported that conditions were tolerable.

Flamboyant former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman landed in Beijing Saturday after a visit to North Korea, describing the escapade as a "real good trip".

Lankov said in general North Korea's aim was that detained Americans "should be treated not just well, but extremely well".

Rodman has faced ridicule and criticism for his trips to North Korea, which some USA politicians and activists view as serving only as fodder for North Korean propaganda.

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