A young American tourist has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in N. Korea. He was sentenced on March 16 after confessing to attempting to steal a propaganda banner from his hotel room. The action, considered a prank in most countries was dubbed a “serious offense” in the DPRK.
Otto Wambier was paraded before television cameras that recorded his tearful ‘confession’. It has been alleged that he was attempting to damage the unity of the country. Wambier said on camera that he had attempted the theft of the banner as a dare from his college mates.
The Young Pioneer Tour that he was on was stopped at the Pyongyang airport and Wambier was detained in prison. The tours are arranged through a China based travel company.
This comes at a difficult time for any American in the DPRK who falls afoul of the authorities. The current leader of the renegade country, Kim Jong Un, has continued with a programme to develop guided missiles capable of carrying nuclear war heads. His country has developed and tested atomic warheads, the latest test on January 6th.
Tensions between the north and south on the Korean Peninsula are higher than in many months. A tri-country military exercise off the S. Korean coast had Korea, Australia and the US conducting war games off the coast earlier this month. It prompted Kim Jong Un to announce that he might order a pre-emptive nuclear strike.
The Kim Jong Un answered the world today with another missile launch into the ocean. This missile was reputed to travel about 800km( 500 mi) before dropping into the ocean.
The debate continues as to whether the world should continue to provide the reclusive nation with food aid when massive amounts of resources are directed to building nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. The UN has had to reduce its food donations this year as famine in many other areas have stretched resources thin. Normally 10 000 tons of food every month are delivered to N. Korea.
Canadian government travel advisory gives the country a red warning and simply states that you should avoid all travel there. The US Government “strongly recommends against all travel by US citizens to North Korea”. The US warning was last updated in November of 2015.
Radio Free Asia
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