A female British tourist has revealed she was taken to a ‘secret’ floor of a hotel in North Korea.
The company she used for the trip was the same one used by U.S. student Otto Warmbier, who passed away after being detained in the reclusive nation before returning to America in a coma.
‘Young Pioneer Tours’ were the company both tourists used and the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, visited the hotel on an island in Pyongyang’s river as part of her nine-day tour.
The British woman, who went on the tour back in 2011, said she was encouraged by one of the guides to go and see the floor, which was reportedly ‘off limits’.
After the short visit, the woman says her group left the out-of-bounds area and the rest of the trip had no more incidents – unlike Otto Warmbier’s arrest.
Otto was sentenced to 15 years hard labour for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from a hotel, but died on Tuesday after being allowed to return to the U.S. for ‘humanitarian release’.
Otto and his friends attempted to return to the U.S. on 2 January 2016, but he was arrested at the airport and put into a North Korean jail.
Two months later, in March, Otto made a short appearance in-front of local censored media, but then disappeared into custody of North Korean officials until last week.
Following his return home – on a private medical plane, in a coma – Otto died just six days later, with American doctors revealing his condition was likely caused by a heart attack after his brain suffered a lack of oxygen.
Officials in North Korea claim he had been in the same state since taking a sleeping till, to help him recover after suffering from food poisoning – an account that has been widely undermined by health professionals and Otto’s family, according to the Daily Mail.
Otto’s death has caused outrage around the world and is believed to have heightened tensions between Kim Jong Un, the U.S. and the rest of the world.
President Trump has slammed the country and its ‘brutal regime’ in response to Otto’s death.
The U.S. once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim. Video: https://t.co/Rvm11ZbPk7
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2017
The female tourist spent a year living in South Korea before her 2011 trip and believes the tour company ‘are placing young adults in danger as they underestimate the risks [of situations] involved’.
We had to be very quiet and the excursion felt very clandestine and a little bit scary.
Tour companies seem to routinely take people to that floor – knowing that it is off limits.
What I worry about is that tour companies are taking giddy young adults to this country and placing them in danger.
Following Otto’s death, ‘Young Pioneer Tours’ posted a statement on Facebook claiming to have made numerous attempts to speak to him, but were blocked by North Korean officials.
In wake of Otto’s death, they have stopped accepting American citizens on their trips – which reportedly cost around $1500.
Otto’s family have said that they want to remember happy memories and not the distressing images of him in his press conference.
The Warmbier family said that whilst they acknowledged the ‘awful, torturous mistreatment’ Otto received at the hands of North Korean officials, they wish to:
Focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.
It has been revealed this morning that an autopsy will not be performed on Otto, after a coroner granted his family’s request not to do so.
A sports enthusiast with a BA (Hons) in Sports Journalism, who can be found predominantly at Villa Park. Having completed a Masters in Broadcast Journalism, she then went on to work at Sky Sports, the BBC, and the Mirror. When not engrossed in sport, it’s animals, guitars, and Liam Gallagher which take main focus.