The Chinese tour agency which took United States student Otto Warmbier to Pyongyang in North Korea on Tuesday said it would not take any Americans to the Kim Jong-un-led state. The statement from the agency came after the 22-year-old American student died following 18 months detention in North Korea.
Warmbier travelled to North Korea at the end of 2015 with a tour group where he was arrested for allegedly stealing a propaganda sign from the staff-only section of the hotel. The University of Virginia student was detained at the airport as he was leaving Pyongyang in January 2016. He was eventually sentenced to 15 years of hard labour at a show trial.
Warmbier was medically evacuated to the United States last week after the North Korean authorities alerted his family that he had caught botulism and was in a coma. Medical experts in Warmbier's hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, said that the student was suffering serious brain damage. Warmbier did not regain consciousness after coming to the US and died six days later in the presence of his family.
Young Pioneer Tours, the China-based travel agency, in a Facebook post, said that it has been "struggling to process the result" of Warmbier's detention.
"There had not been any previous detainment in North Korea that has ended with such tragic finality," the company said. It also added that Warmbier's death had made it "reconsider" its position on accepting American tourists, according to AFP reports.
"Now, the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high," it said, adding, "we will no longer be organising tours for US citizens to North Korea."
Young Pioneer Tours is one of the few tour agencies which offer trips to North Korea, the agency also offers adventure sports like scuba diving on one of the world's most impoverished countries.
US President Donald Tump has blamed Pyongyang's "brutal" regime for Warmbier's death. Trump on Monday issued a statement offering condolences to the Warmbier family and denounced "the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim."