Otto Warmbierの許しがたい死に方 北朝鮮へのアメリカ市民の旅行禁止がもうじき起こりそうだ。

The outrageous death of Otto Warmbier
A travel ban for American citizens to North Korea may be in the offing
Jun 20th 2017

Otto Warmbierの許しがたい死に方

“HOW safe is it? Extremely safe!” So read the guidance for North Korea on the website of Young Pioneer Tours when Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old American student, signed up for a five-day trip to North Korea in December 2015. The travel company based in China is one of a handful that offer tightly marshalled circuits around mostly beautified bits of the impoverished gangster state. “Despite what you may hear,” it continued, “North Korea is probably one of the safest places on Earth to visit.”

marshalled :集める

Mr Warmbier was arrested the following month at the airport in Pyongyang, as he was leaving, and accused of attempting to steal a propaganda placard. This counts as an “anti-state crime” in North Korea, since without political slogans to inspire them, workers might slack off. He was tried in March 2016, and sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour. “I have been very impressed by the Korean government’s humanitarian treatment of severe criminals like myself,” he said during a televised confession.


The North Korean authorities released him “on compassionate grounds” on June 13th, in a vegetative state. He was flown home to Ohio, where he died six days later. American doctors who treated him after his arrival said he was suffering from a catastrophic brain injury, probably sustained shortly after his trial. Their analysis was based on two MRI scans provided by the North Koreans, who reportedly said that Mr Warmbier had been in a coma for over a year.

vegetative :植物状態

All other aspects of his 17-month-long detention at the hands of the regime are murky. The placard he was accused of removing was in a staff-only corridor at the Yanggakdo hotel in Pyongyang, where he had been staying (North Korea released grainy footage of what it said was Mr Warmbier removing it and placing it on the floor). In a tearful statement of apparent confession, Mr Warmbier said he had tried to take it as a “trophy” for an American church.


The North Korean government would not let Swedish diplomats acting on behalf of America, which does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea, visit Mr Warmbier after his trial. Yet it was quiet diplomatic shuttling that appears to have helped secure Mr Warmbier’s eventual release, culminating in a meeting in New York on June 6th between Joseph Yun, America’s special representative for North Korea, and North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, Pak Kil Yon. In that meeting Mr Yun learned of Mr Warmbier’s failing health. Within a week he flew to Pyongyang with a medical team.


According to Mr Warmbier’s parents, the North Koreans told their American counterparts that his coma was induced by a sleeping pill that he took after contracting botulism, a food-borne illness. American doctors treating Mr Warmbier say they found no evidence of the disease in his body; nor, as some had suspected, of beatings or other physical abuse. They suggest that a heart attack may have cut his supply of oxygen. It is one of a multitude of puzzling questions about the case. Why did North Korea admit that Mr Warmbier had been in a comatose state for over a year but lie about its cause? And why did it originally keep quiet about the coma and treat him for a year before coming clean?


On past precedent, it seems likely that the harm done to Mr Warmbier was unintended. Although 18 American citizens have been detained by North Korea over the past two decades (and ten since Kim Jong Un, its leader, took power five-and-a-half years ago), they have rarely been hurt. Foreign travellers are typically held either on espionage charges or for “hostile acts” against the North Korean state—bilingual Bibles left in bathrooms, for example. Yet these prisoners are mainly kept as bargaining chips in the hope of negotiations. Matthew Todd Miller, who sought political asylum in North Korea but was sentenced to six years of hard labour, said in an interview after his release six months later that he was permitted to keep his iPhone to listen to music, among other privileges. Kenneth Bae, who was charged with proselytising, was allowed to read his Bible in captivity. (Both men were released in late 2014.)


Mr Warmbier’s case will fuel growing calls in America for a ban on travel to North Korea, for which a bill was proposed in May by two congressmen. About 1,000 Americans, or roughly one-fifth of all tourists to North Korea, visit the country every year (although America’s government strongly advises against it). Young Pioneer Tours, which also organises travel to former Soviet gulags, Chernobyl and Iran (or, “destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from”, as it brags), says it will no longer take Americans to North Korea.


Uri Tours and Koryo Tours, two other travel companies also based out of China that organise tours to North Korea, say they are reviewing their position on the matter. Backers of a ban say that such tours do “nothing but provide funds to a tyrannical regime”. Yet revenue from tourism, estimated at $30m-40m a year, is only a small sliver of even the North’s backward economy. Those who support interaction say that an embargo simply helps the North Korean government to shut out the outside world.


Mr Warmbier’s sad fate will be taken as yet another instance of American vulnerability to Mr Kim’s regime, says Scott Snyder of the Council on Foreign Relations, an American think-tank. Concern about the North’s zeal to develop a missile that can hit continental America has mounted in recent months. Coming so soon after the news of his death, security talks between America and China (one of the North’s few backers) on June 21st in Washington, DC, will be charged. South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, called for the swift return of the three Americans and six South Koreans still detained there. Even if travel restrictions are put in place, talks like those conducted by Mr Yun may still continue, says Mr Snyder—indeed, cooler heads will argue that they are more necessary than ever.




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