World

Warmbier's travel agency stops taking Americans to N. Korea

BEIJING The death of US student Otto Warmbier following his incarceration in North Korea has shaken tour companies catering to thrill seekers, with several reconsidering whether to take Americans to the reclusive state.

Mr Warmbier, 22, died on Monday after being medically evacuated to the United States last week after suffering from severe brain damage, with US President Donald Trump blaming Pyongyang's "brutal regime" for his plight.

Young Pioneer Tours, the China-based travel agency that took Mr Warmbier to North Korea, said in a Facebook post that it would no longer allow US citizens on its trips.

"We have been struggling to process the result," said Young Pioneer Tours, which advertises the North as "probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit".

"There had not been any previous detainment in North Korea that has ended with such tragic finality," it said.

Other companies released statements saying they were reviewing whether to continue taking Americans to the North.

China-based Koryo Tours, which has been going to North Korea since 1993 and takes about 2,000 tourists there a year, said the tragedy had prompted it to reconsider taking US citizens to the North.

UK-based Lupine Travel managing director Dylan Harris told AFP that the company was also reconsidering whether to cater to Americans, "but for all other nationalities there will be no change".

Uri Tours, which is based in the US and has an office in Shanghai, said it was "reviewing" its position. - AFP

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