- Jun 18, 2017 at 9:23 pm #3473931
I’m sure most all of us have read about Otto Warmbier – an apparently bright and fun-loving American college student whose trip to North Korea landed him in jail, and then inexplicably into a state of coma!
Thousands of people from all over the world visit North Korea every year – the vast majority without mishap. Indeed, the ones we hear about getting into trouble are those ‘with cause’ – such as passing out bibles and the like. In this case, I have to disagree with Otto’s dad for accusing travel agencies of “luring” people there. Not at all.
But what Otto did – stealing a propaganda banner from his hotel – would be viewed as “idiotic college prank” in most all countries in the world. A bureaucratic dress down, or perhaps a fine — but only in North Korea would a prank earn anyone 15 years of hard labor! And then, inexplicably, Otto fell into a state of coma. And North Korea kept that critical piece of news from everyone for more than a year!
Speaking for myself… I’m pretty nonjudgmental about visiting different countries of the world. I’ve enjoyed my visits to Belarus, Cuba, Myanmar, Zimbabwe… But I wonder why on earth anyone would visit North Korea where everything is staged and visitors are absolutely prohibited from interacting with any North Korean, without explicit permission from the tour guide?? Bragging rights, perhaps?
There are 197 countries in the world (per my reckoning). All out wars aside (Syria, Yemen, etc.), North Korea is really the only country that I refuse to visit! Curious, how about y’all? What countries would you NOT visit at present?Jun 18, 2017 at 9:27 pm #3473932
Did you ever watch the Vice guide to NK? Interesting piece for sure.Jun 18, 2017 at 9:30 pm #3473933
No, Michael, link please?Jun 18, 2017 at 9:31 pm #3473934Jun 18, 2017 at 9:36 pm #3473936
Thanks, Michael. I will click over there. In the meantime, I found more info about the travel agency that Otto signed with – Young Pioneers Tour. Hmmm, their Iraqi/Kurdistan tour seems intriguing. Kurdistan (such as it is) is reputedly the safest bit of Iraq.Jun 18, 2017 at 9:37 pm #3473938
To your question – I’d avoid NK and some of the ME. Other than that, I figure your odds of getting in trouble are low. Especially if you avoid the more troublesome spots.
But to be honest, I have too many “safer” areas I still need to visit before I’d consider a riskier option. Other than seeing the pyramids in Egypt, there isn’t much in the more dangerous countries I really feel the need to see. At least until I have exhausted my other options!Jun 18, 2017 at 9:40 pm #3473939
Excerpted from Vice article: “but this guy with our group, who was from the LA Times, told us, “Everyone in here besides us is secret police. If you don’t act excited, then you’re not going to get your visa. So we got drunk and jumped up onstage and sang songs with the girls. The next day we got our visas.”
HILARIOUS!!! (But I still won’t go there). :)
Michael – This day and age, anything can happen pretty much anywhere – no thanks to both foreign extremists and local crazies. Lately, it “seems” we hear more gut wrenching mishaps coming out of Europe than any of the Middle Eastern countries not actually at war. And here at home, we have our share of local crazies too. Sigh…Jun 19, 2017 at 12:31 am #3473959
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
But I wonder why on earth anyone would visit North Korea where everything is staged and visitors are absolutely prohibited from interacting with any North Korean, without explicit permission from the tour guide??
No rational reason at all. Unless you’re crazy (a.k.a. Dennis Rodman) it is a place to avoid. But things may change. Apparently last week Rodman brought a copy of The Art of the Deal to be given to Kim Jong Un. This may be a stroke of genius.Jun 19, 2017 at 3:36 pm #3474087
Mr. Otto Warmbier has died. His trip to hell has finally ended. May he rest in peace.Jun 27, 2017 at 4:42 am #3475662
Robert MeurantBPL Member
I was quite touched by Mr Warmbier’s imprisonment, and then again of course by his death. He was too young, and made a silly trivial mistake, and paid dearly for it. There is absolutely no excuse for his treatment by the North Korean government, and I condemn them for it.
It highlights for me the absolute asymmetry between the individual and the state. The individual gets blamed for most troubles, but is essentially powerless against a corrupt dictatorship. At least he got to return home to his family before dying. May he Rest In Peace. May his family heal.Jun 27, 2017 at 7:55 am #3475699
Anybody who is thinking of visiting NK should realize in advance that they are potentially a pawn in a much larger, deadly serious game, where a “college prank” can easily become a pawn sacrifice.Jun 27, 2017 at 9:52 am #3475719
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
at least his family got closure.
They could have just kept his body and never said what happened. The family would spend years thinking he was still alive and trying to get him returnedJun 27, 2017 at 10:04 am #3475725
Todd StoughBPL Member
I agree this is a tragedy but lets not pretend that this is proof that NK is evil. This sort of thing happens all the time here. Police kill and abuse people. It happens every where.Jun 27, 2017 at 10:27 am #3475730
Ken T.BPL Member
No more evidence needed. It is so obviously clear.Jun 27, 2017 at 10:48 am #3475737
To me, NK seems like one big cult. A political cult, in this case. And an evil one that is more brutal than any other in sucking out individualism and replacing with state conformism. But for all kinds of idiotic reasons, thousands of tourists will continue flocking there…
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