Former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman, a “good American friend” of the Kim regime in North Korea, may have just returned from what he describes as a successful “basketball diplomacy” trip to the hermit state, but whatever goodwill he may have gotten has been rendered moot.

Another returnee from the oppressive Asian country, American tourist Otto Warmbier, was comatose after being detained in North Korea for 17 months following his arrest for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel room. His vegetative state was due to a reaction to taking a sleeping pill after contracting botulism according to North Korean officials.

But it hardly matters now. A mere six days after being returned to the U.S., he has died at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he was confined after his medical evacuation from North Korea.

CNN reported that his parents and two siblings were at his bedside. In their official statement, the Warmbiers thanked the Medical Center’s staff for doing their utmost in caring for their son in his last days, but that they were “resigned” to the harsh truth that the mistreatment of 22-year-old Otto had sealed his sad fate.

The last time Otto Warmbier was seen alive and relatively well was during his sentencing to hard labor at a North Korean court for “harmful acts against the state” in 2016.

Medical examiners of that country reported that he fell into a coma not long after due to botulism. U.S. doctors who examined Warmbier in Cincinnati, however, detected no trace of the illness.

During his time in the hospital, he was under a state of “unresponsive wakefulness” or a persistent vegetative state according to the Medical Center staff.

‘Murdered’ by regime

The death of Otto Warmbier has sent shockwaves through both the tourism industry and the government with the repercussions of an American prisoner of North Korea being maltreated to the point that recovery was impossible. Young Pioneer Tours, the travel group with whom Warmbier booked his fatal trip in 2016, announced that they will no longer offer tours of the country to U.S.


In the meantime, government officials are thus far unanimous in their condemnation of North Korea, holding the Kim regime responsible for Warmbier’s death. Senator John McCain went so far as to accuse them of indirectly murdering Otto. President Trump also described the North Koreans as “brutal”.

There is talk that this course of events could see escalating tensions in the region as the U.S. may call on North Korea’s only military ally, China, to crack down on the Kim regime further.