Following the tragic death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, the tour agency responsible for his fateful trip the DPRK has announced they are reconsidering the policy on bringing Americans to the hermit state.
Young Pioneer Tours, a China-based tour agency founded by Gareth Johnson, took to Facebook to express their sympathy over the death of Warmbier, as well as their plan for Americans going forward:
via Young Pioneer Tours Facebook:
Our deepest sympathies are with Otto Warmbier and those who loved him. We had held onto hope that he might recover, and have the life that he should have had, but now those hopes are gone, and we too are reeling with the shock of a young man’s life taken well before his time.
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. There has still been almost no information disclosed about his period in detention. Considering these facts and this tragic outcome we will no longer be organising tours for US citizens to North Korea.
Young Pioneer Tours, which was founded by British expatriate Gareth Johnson, sells itself as a tour agency that brings you to the countries ‘your mother doesn’t want you to go to.’ They specialize in North Korea tours and is based in the Chinese city of Xi’an. YPT also offers tours to Iran, Turkmenistan and Chernobyl.
Similarly, other North Korea tour agencies such as Koryo Tours and Uri Tours said this week that they were ‘reviewing’ their policies for American citizens.
Otto Warmbier, 22, died on Monday, June 19, after spending over a year in a coma as a prisoner of North Korea.