CINCINNATI – Officials in North Korea and the U.S. released little information Friday about a university student from Ohio who was detained for what the authoritarian nation called a “hostile act.”
Otto Warmbier is the second person from southwest Ohio to be detained in North Korea in less than two years. A Dayton-area man, Jeffrey Fowle, was held for nearly six months in 2014.
North Korea’s state media said the University of Virginia student entered the country under the guise of a tourist and plotted against North Korean unity with “the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.” The date and other details of his arrest were unclear.
A China-based tour company specializing in travel to North Korea, Young Pioneer Tours, confirmed one of its customers, identified only as Warmbier, had been detained in Pyongyang, the North’s capital, but provided no other details.
The U.S. Department of State said it was “aware of media reports that a U.S. citizen was detained in North Korea.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, campaigning in New Hampshire as a Republican presidential candidate, called the arrest “inexcusable.” Kasich said North Korea should either provide evidence of the alleged anti-state activities or release Warmbier.
A few thousand Westerners visit North Korea each year, and Pyongyang is pushing for more tourists as a way to help its dismal economy. The U.S. Department of State has warned against travel to the North, however, and visitors, especially those from America, who break the country’s sometimes murky rules risk detention, arrest and poss
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.