A Student from the United States has been detained in North Korea.
North Korea has reportedly held a touring US student, 21-year-old Otto Frederick Wambier, for what the communist country described as an attempt to “destroy the country’s unity” by committing a “hostile act,” according to a Reuters report.
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This is not the first time North Korea has been seizing and detaining foreign nationals in the country over spurious allegations, and the country sometimes does this to levy demands on other countries in exchange for freeing the detained individual.
Although the circumstances surrounding his arrest and detention are hazy at the moment, Wambier happens to be the third US citizen held in North Korea, a country that has no diplomatic ties with the United States.
According to KCNA, North Korea’s official news agency, Wambier was arrested as a tourist after he “was caught committing a hostile act against the state,” an act that must have been “tolerated and manipulated by the US government.”
The truth however is that North Korea remains unspecific on what the alleged “hostile act” is or elaborate any further.
Gareth Johnson, a member of Young Pioneer Tours based in China revealed that Wambier was on a tour to North Korea with the group before his arrest and detention on January 2. A member of the US Embassy in South Korea disclosed he is aware of the event.
"We are in touch with Otto's family, the U.S. State Department and the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang and doing all we can to secure his release," Johnson told Reuters.
Wambier’s social media profiles reveal he is a student of the University of Virginia, from Cincinnati and an Echols Scholar. He majors in economics with a minor in global sustainability at the university. He had also visited Cuba, Ireland, Israel and other countries.
The Swedish Embassy represents US interests in North Korea, and both the US and Canada warns its citizens to avoid visiting the communist country.
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A Canadian pastor born in South Korea was handed down a life sentence for alleged subversion in 2015, and early this January, a Korean-American alerted the CNN that he is being held in Pyongyang for spying. Three American detainees were freed from the country in 2014, and a South Korean with a US green card was also released last October after detention for six months.