N. Korea Arrests US Student on 'Party Tour'

Otto Frederick Warmbier was arrested Jan. 2 on a tourist trip
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2016 6:16 AM CST
N. Korea Arrests US Student on 'Party Tour'
In this July 27, 2013, photo, North Korean soldiers participate in a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

North Korea says it has detained an American student from the University of Virginia who visited the country as part of a "New Year's Party Tour." A rep for Chinese travel company Young Pioneer Tours says undergraduate commerce student Otto Frederick Warmbier, 21, was arrested at Pyongyang airport on Jan. 2 after a five-day tourist trip. North Korea's official news agency says he visited with the "aim to destroy the country's unity" and "was caught committing a hostile act against the state," which was "tolerated and manipulated by the US government," per Reuters. The US Embassy in Seoul says it's aware of Warmbier's arrest, per CNN.

The tour group says it's working with the State Department and the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which represents US interests there. "We would appreciate Otto's and his family's privacy being respected and we hope his release can be secured as soon as possible," a rep tells the BBC. Reuters notes about 6,000 westerners travel to North Korea each year; the "New Year's Party Tour" Warmbier was participating in promised a fireworks display in Kim Il Sung Square. One other American citizen is being held in North Korea. Kim Dong Chul, who says he's a naturalized US citizen who used to live in Virginia, was arrested in October. (More North Korea stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.