Seoul: North Korea yesterday announced the arrest of a US university student for what it called a “hostile act” orchestrated by the American government to undermine the authoritarian nation.
Kim Jong-un’s regime has in the past occasionally announced the arrests of foreign detainees in times of tension. Pic/AFP
In language that mirrors past North Korean claims of outside conspiracies, Pyongyang’s state media said the University of Virginia student entered the country under the guise of a tourist and plotted to destroy North Korean unity with “the tacit connivance of the US government and under its manipulation.” The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a short report that the student, whom it identified as Warmbier Otto Frederick, was “arrested while perpetrating a hostile act,” but didn’t say when he was detained or explain the nature of the act.
North Korea has sometimes listed English-language surnames first, in the Korean style. The University of Virginia’s online student directory lists someone named Otto Frederick Warmbier as an undergraduate commerce student.
Social media accounts for Warmbier show interests in finance, travel and rap music; he was on his university’s dean’s list and attended high school in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The US State Department said in a statement that it was “aware of media reports that a US citizen was detained in North Korea,” but had “no further information to share due to privacy considerations.”