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Rodman begins sightseeing on NKorea trip he hopes opens door

19 June 2017

Warmbier, 22, a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, was on his way back to the US on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. He is in a coma for unexplained reasons. A North Korean foreign ministry official confirmed that Warmbier was released and left the country Tuesday morning. After confessing, Otto Warmbier was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor.

"We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime in North Korea", Otto Warmbier's parents Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in commenting on their son's release.

Otto Warmbier, 23, a student at the University of Virginia, was arrested for stealing a propaganda poster as a tourist in North Korea in January last year and sentenced to 15 years' hard labour after a tearful confession. Kenneth Bae, an American who was detained for two years in the North from 2012, told the Korea JoongAng Daily last month he was forced to confess his crime and also to fabricate some parts of his story.

We said, at the time of Mr. Warmbier's arrest and conviction, that North Korea has a history of obtaining global prisoners who later can be used as political bargaining chips. The recluse regime has been put under economic sanctions due to the nation's missile tests.

He had not been seen in public since, and Swedish diplomats, representing USA interests, had been denied consular access to him.

"While the entire University of Virginia community is relieved to learn of Otto's release from North Korea, we are deeply concerned and saddened to learn from his family that he is in a coma", said U.Va.'s president, Teresa Sullivan, in a statement Tuesday. Secretary of State Tillerson said on June 13, 2017, that North Korea released the jailed USA university student.

SEOUL - South Korea's household debt growth slowed slightly in May, data showed Wednesday, but financial authorities said they will make more efforts to stabilize the pace of growth.

"I can't even imagine", she said.

Yun was under orders, which the official said came directly from Trump, to demand to see Warmbier immediately and, "if he was in bad shape", to demand his immediate release. He flew home Tuesday in a coma-like state, according to some media reports.

Warmbier's release came as former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Tuesday, returning to the increasingly isolated nuclear-armed country where he previously met leader Kim Jong Un. She says Trump's "thoughts and prayers" are with the 22-year-old college student's family.

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AP reporters Josh Lederman and Ken Thomas in Washington, Eric Talmadge in Pyongyang, North Korea, Daniel Sewell in Cincinnati and video journalist Sara Gillesby in NY contributed to this report.

The detention of Americans, often sentenced to draconian prison sentences for seemingly small offenses in the totalitarian nation, has compounded tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

Warmbier is from the Cincinnati suburb Wyoming.

"Otto's detainment and sentence was unnecessary and appalling, and North Korea should be universally condemned for its abhorrent behavior", said Republican Sen. On this trip, he has already been roundly criticized by some for visiting during a time of high tensions between the USA and North Korea over its weapons programs and recent missile launches.

Our sympathies go out to Otto Warmbier and his family.

The unemployment rate stood at 3.6 percent last month, down 0.1 percentage point from the same month a year ago, according to the report compiled by Statistics Korea.

A small group of family friends was nearby to celebrate Warmbier's arrival, cheering and holding signs that read "Pray for Otto" and 'Welcome home Otto'.

The State Department advises "strongly" against visits by USA citizens to North Korea, noting that at least 16 Americans have been detained there over the last decade. Swedish diplomats, who represent US interests in Pyongyang, were able to check in on Warmbier recently and reported that the young American was in a coma after being stricken with what appeared to be a case of botulism.

One of four Americans detained in North Korea at the time, CNN reports that shortly after Swedish officials were allowed to visit them last week the North Korean government arranged a meeting with Joe Yun, the US envoy in NY, to tell him about Warmbier's condition.

Rodman begins sightseeing on NKorea trip he hopes opens door