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People that never come back from NK 2017-05-28 오후 11:31:00

North Korea, currently a country with confidential borders and a nuclear site in the interior, shows interest in taking foreign people as hostages. As everyone knows, stepping in the North Korean borders is difficult, and it's a lifetime chance, but it's more like a risky act. Only the selected few may be allowed to go, including foreign reporter, politicians, or travelers with visas. However, for some people, it's harder to get out of the country than entering the country.

Tony Kim, Otto Warmbier, Kim Dong Chul, who are all US citizens, are only few of the handful of people of variety of nationalities who are or were used to be kept in North Korea. All people, "hostages" in other words, are detained or were detained for some kind of reason like illegal entrance to North Korea, unauthorized religious activity, or harming the dignity of the supreme leadership. Some are even unknown. Many were released after few months, but few lasted for years.

While these people are in detention, they experience harsh conditions, having to stay in enclosed, stuffy prison cells, and are given lack of basic necessities like food or water. Sitting in the cells that doesn't even have much daylight shining through the windows, they need to face the anxiety of fearing what will happen when they open their eyes tomorrow morning. They are forced to confess the things that the officials want them to say, have to bear through series of trials, and be condemned as guilty. They are required to perform years of arduous labor, but they're allowed to seek a low possibility of appeal.

Otto Warmbier, previously spoken about, is an undergraduate of University of Virginia, that grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. Warmbier traveled to North Korea as a tourist on a group tour, Young Pioneer Tours. He is alleged to steal a propaganda sign from a Yanggakdo International Hotel staff only floor in Pyongyang. He was staying in the hotel with other tourists in his group. On March 18, 2016, North Korea news released a video showing the crime itself, showing a black shadowed figure that sneaks up to the wall and detaches a sign that is next placed on the floor. On January 2, 2016, he was ultimately arrested in the Pyongyang airport while boarding a flight home, while other members of the tour all returned to their hometown without any interruption. Two months later, he had a one hour trial that convicted him of " act of hostility against the state". Later in February he confessed to the theft he was thought to have carried out. He testified that he attempted to carry it back to the US for someone that was going to pay him with a gift of a car. From then, he is still in detention until 2017, present.

North Korea considers the method of keeping foreign prisoners under their control a valuable way to apply pressure on their rivals and enemies, like the US, as most of the foreigners detained in North Korea are thought to be US citizens. It may also be their display of their strength in prior to the potential war, and the exaggeration of their power over foreign countries. Whether their point of this act of continuous arrests of foreigners is threats to start a war, struggles to increase tensions, or acts to show power to North Korean citizens, countries should search for a way to get the hostages out of there immediately.

Writer
Seoul International School
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