BREAKING: OTTO WARMBIER DEAD AT 22

CINCINNATI, OH — Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old Ohio college student who was held in North Korea for 17 months before being released just last Tuesday, has died.

Warmbier suffered a devastating brain injury while being held prisoner and was in an unresponsive state when released by North Korean officials and flown home to the United States.

On Monday, his family paid tribute to Warmbier in a statement.

“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds,” the family’s statement continues. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched — Wyoming, Ohio, and the University of Virginia to name just two — that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.”

The family also thanked “the wonderful professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who did everything they could for Otto.”

In a statement, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, called Warmbier a “promising young man.”

“He was kind, generous and accomplished,” Portman said. “He had all the talent you could ever ask for and a bright future ahead of him. His passing today is a loss for Ohio and for all of us. Jane and I are lifting up the Warmbier family in our prayers at this difficult time, and we are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of this remarkable young Ohioan.”

In a statement from The White House,  President Donald Trump sent his condolences to Warmbier’s family and condemned the North Korean regime.

 

“Melania and I offer our deepest condolences to the family of Otto Warmbier on his untimely passing,” said the president. “There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Otto’s family and friends, and all who loved him.

“Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.  The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said late Monday that the United States holds North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un directly accountable for Warbier’s death.

“We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained,” said Tillerson.

Warmbier had gone to North Korea as a tourist on his way to Hong Kong for a study abroad program, but was stopped when he tried to leave the country. At trial, North Korean officials accused him of trying to steal a poster as he left the country.  He was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

The North Korean government says it played no role in Warbier’s death and says the student fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill in March 2016.  US doctors say they found no evidence to back up these claims.

 

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ARMING THE ENEMY? UN AIDS ROGUE STATE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF NERVE GAS

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — Over the course of the last year, the United Nations has aided North Korea in developing a patent application for production of sodium cyanide — a chemical used in the development of nerve gas, says a bombshell report.

In an exclusive reveal, Fox News reported on Monday that the rogue state began the international patent process on Nov. 1, 2015 — just two months prior to its fourth nuclear test.

Sodium cyanide, which has been on a list of materials banned from shipment to that country by the U.N. Security Council since 2006, is used to make Tabun, a deadly nerve agent.

Hugh Griffiths, coordinator of the international U.N. expert team, told Fox News that a panel of experts officially “opened an investigation into this matter” based upon a report obtained from the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, website (https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf;jsessionid=47851DD954DCB23C0999B064BEC3119B.wapp1nB?docId=WO2016199944&recNum=3&office=&queryString=%28ANID%3AKP*+AND+CTR%3AWO%29&prevFilte=&sortOption=Pub+Date+Desc&maxRec=45).

“This is a disturbing development that should be of great concern to the U.S. administration and to Congress, as well as the U.S. Representative to the U.N.,” William Newcomb, a former member of the U.N. Panel of Experts told Fox News.
“It undermines sanctions to have this going on. The U.N. agencies involved should have been much more alert to checking these programs out.”

The revelation comes just days after North Korean leaders announced that they had fired off a long range missile capable of carrying a “heavy nuclear warhead” and hitting U.S. targets.

The United Nations receives $8 billion from the United States each year. The funds are supposed to go toward humanitarian projects but inside sources say the funds are being funneled to mostly anti-American tyrannical regimes around the globe.

Last week, tensions between the United States and North Korea reached a fever pitch after North Korean officials claimed the CIA and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service conspired to assassinate Kim Jong Un with a biochemical weapon.

U.S. intelligence officials called North Korea’s claims “baseless”.

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NORTH KOREA ACCUSES CIA OF ASSASSINATION PLOT TO TAKE OUT KIM JONG UN AS THREATS OF NUCLEAR STRIKE CONTINUE

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — North Korean officials on Friday accused the United States of staging a CIA plot to assassinate dictator Kim Jong Un.

Accusing U.S. officials with working with South Korea to take out the North Korean leader with a “biochemical substance,” the rogue state vowed to “mercilessly destroy” those behind the plot.

According to a propaganda piece published by North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, “a hideous terrorists’ group” directed by the Central Intelligence Agency and South Korean cohorts “ideologically corrupted” a North Korean dissident and paid the man, who was identified only only as “Kim”, over $20,000 to carry out the hit.

“The Central Intelligence Agency of the U.S. and the Intelligence Service (IS) of south Korea, hotbed of evils in the world, hatched a vicious plot to hurt the supreme leadership of the DPRK and those acts have been put into the extremely serious phase of implementation after crossing the threshold of the DPRK,” the KCNA said (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa-idUSKBN18113D?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Social). “A hideous terrorists’ group, which the CIA and the IS infiltrated into the DPRK on the basis of covert and meticulous preparations to commit state-sponsored terrorism against the supreme leadership of the DPRK by use of bio-chemical substance, has been recently detected.”

“They hatched a plot of letting human scum Kim commit bomb terrorism targeting the supreme leadership during events at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and at military parade and public procession after his return home,” the statement continued. “They told him that assassination by use of biochemical substances including radioactive substance and nano poisonous substance is the best method that does not require access to the target, their lethal results will appear after six or twelve months.”

The North’s Ministry of State Security released a statement referring to the plot as “the last-ditch effort” of U.S. “imperialists” and a “pipe-dream” that could never succeed. “Criminals going hell-bent to realize such a pipe dream cannot survive on this land even a moment,” the statement read.

The National Intelligence Service has dismissed North Korea’s accusations as “groundless”.

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PUTIN STEPS IN: U.S. AND RUSSIA PLEDGE TO ‘WORK TOGETHER’ TO STOP NORTH KOREA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After weeks of escalating tensions between the United States and Russia, president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin have agreed to put their differences aside to work on a much bigger issue; North Korea.

In a statement on Tuesday, the White House confirmed that the two leaders had spoken by phone and agreed they must work together to help quash the “very dangerous” situation in North Korea.

The Kremlin also confirmed the call, and announced that Putin and Trump have agreed to schedule a face-to-face meeting in Germany in July – possibly coinciding with the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg.

Although they did not elaborate on the exact details, the Kremlin also confirmed that the pair discussed the ongoing crisis in Syria, which has been a sore spot in U.S., Russia relations since a chemical attack took the lives of dozens of Syrian civilians last month. The White House said that the two leaders are in agreement that “all parties must do all they can to end the violence” in the war torn country, which is in it’s sixth year of a civil war.

“The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons” said a White House spokesperson.

The phone conference was the first known discussion between the two leaders since Trump ordered US missile strikes against a Syrian government, who counts Russia as one of it’s staunchest allies.

Meanwhile, China, who has pledged to help play mediator between president Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, on Tuesday urged the United States and North Korea to make contact “as soon as possible” in an effort to cool nuclear tensions.

The plea came from Geng Shuang, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry in response to Trump’s comments this week that he would be willing to meet with Jong Un to discuss their differences “if appropriate.”

“Both sides should reach a political resolution as soon as possible,” Mr Geng said. “The most effective way of attaining an improvement is to seek ways to re- establish dialogue and contact.”

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea again reached a fever pitch this week after North Korean military officials threatened to sink a US nuclear submarine deployed in South Korean waters.

“The moment the USS Michigan tries to budge even a little, it will be doomed to face the miserable fate of becoming an underwater ghost without being able to come to the surface,” read a statement from the North’s propaganda website Urminzokkiri.
“The urgent fielding of the nuclear submarine in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, timed to coincide with the deployment of the super aircraft carrier strike group, is intended to further intensify military threats toward our republic. Whether it’s a nuclear aircraft carrier or a nuclear submarine, they will be turned into a mass of scrap metal in front of our invincible military power centred on the self-defence nuclear deterrence.”

putintrumpnorthkorea

NOT BACKING DOWN: KIM JUNG-UN WARNS PREEMPTIVE NUCLEAR STRIKE COULD COME ‘AT ANY TIME’ DESPITE TRUMP’S OFFER TO ‘TALK’

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced on Monday that a nuclear launch could come “at any time and at any location” in response to what it called acts of aggression by the United States.

The rogue leader’s comment comes on the same day that U.S. president Donald Trump said he would be willing to sit down with Jong-un to discuss their countries’ differences if the “circumstances were right” (https://rebekahworsham.org/2017/05/01/peace-talks-trump-says-he-would-absolutely-meet-with-north-korean-leader-kim-jung-un-as-world-braces-for-war/).

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been at an all time high for the past several weeks, since the communist country claimed that it has developed nuclear weapons that have the capacity to reach the U.S. mainland.

A spokesman for Jung-un’s military said Pyongyang was “fully ready to respond to any option taken by the US” and that it will “continue bolstering its preemptive nuclear attack” capabilities until Washington refrained from its “hostile policies”.

“The DPRK’s measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership,” a statement from the state-run KCNA news agency read.

Last week, both Washington, D.C. and Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city, carried out joint exercises to prepare for the impact of nuclear war. Further, in a nearly unprecedented event, all members of the U.S. Senate were called to the White House to be briefed on the escalating conflict.

The U.S. emergency drills have ended, but naval exercises are continuing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) with a US strike group led by the aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson.

During the past week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called upon the UN Security Council to do more to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and warned of “catastrophic consequences” if the world does not act.

Asked during a Reuters interview on Saturday if a North Korea nuclear test would prompt U.S. military action, Trump replied: “You’ll soon find out.”

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‘IMMEDIATE THREAT’: MILITARY OFFICIAL WARNS SENATE ATTACK BY NORTH KOREA ‘IMMINENT’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a frightening disclosure, a senior military official warned the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that an attack upon the U.S. by North Korea could happen at any time.

“The crisis on the Korean peninsula is real—the worst I’ve seen,” Commander of U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. told lawmakers. “There is some doubt within the intelligence community whether Kim Jong Un has that capability today or whether he will soon, but I have to assume he has it, the capability is real, and that he’s moving towards it.”

The warning comes just one day after all members of the U.S. Senate were summoned to the White House for an emergency briefing on the escalating tensions.

“Kim Jong Un is making progress and all nations need to take this seriously because their missiles point in all directions,” Harris said. “If left unchecked, they will match the capability of his hostile rhetoric.”

Harris pointed out the significance of what he referred to as a “shift” in Kim Jong Un’s rhetoric, noting the direct threats the North Korean leader made toward Australia and the U.S. over the course of the last week.

“His rhetoric is going in one direction and his capabilities are approaching the lines of his rhetoric,” Harris said. “Where those lines cross, I believe we are at an inflection point and we wake up to a new world.”

Although Harris said he is extremely concerned that a strike against the U.S. could happen at any time, the Navy commander voiced confidence in the strength of President Trump’s resolve to stop the North Korean dictator.

“We want to bring Kim Jong Un to his senses — not to his knees,” Harris said. “I have the forces in place to fight tonight if necessary.”

The commander also praised President Trump for his recent recruitment of China to work as a go between when it comes moderating the tensions between the United States and North Korea.

“We are seeing more activity—positive activity of China in this case, as we have seen in a long time,” Harris said adding that he that he remains “cautiously optimistic, but hopeful”, but warned that it remains too soon to tell what, if any, impact Chinese president Xi Jinping’s lectures to North Korea will have.

Harris told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that an anti-ballistic missile system (THAAD) that is currently in the process of being installed in South Korea would be operational in “a couple of days.”

“THAAD allows us intercept capability to shoot down, at the high altitude level, ballistic missiles that go from North Korea to South Korea,” Harris explained. “THAAD is a system that would give an umbrella to protect South Korea.”

As for weaponry in place to protect the U.S. should North Korea launch a nuclear strike, The U.S. has strategic defense assets in place, but according to the most recent tests, these defense systems are only successful 51% of the time.

“People think missile defenses are a magic wand. They aren’t,” Jeffrey Lewis, a renowned arms expert, told The Daily Caller this month (http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/14/what-would-happen-if-kim-jong-un-launched-a-nuclear-strike/).

Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
told the Council on Foreign Relations in 2016 (http://www.cfr.org/north-korea/report-launch-cfr-sponsored-independent-task-force-us-policy-toward-north-korea/p38266) that if a nuclear strike by North Korea upon the U.S. seemed imminent, America’s best bet would be a preemptive strike to take out North Korea’s launch pad.

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NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR THREAT ‘PRIORITY ONE’ AS SENATE IS BRIEFED ON ESCALATING TENSIONS

WASHINGTON, D.C. — One hundred Senators were called to the White House on Wednesday during a nearly unprecedented event to be briefed on rising tensions between the United States and North Korea.

According to a report published by Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-nuclear-usa-senate-idUSKBN17Q1LR), the briefing, which began at 3:00 pm EST, was originally scheduled to take place in the Capitol building but was moved to the White House at the request of President Trump.

The Senators are reportedly being briefed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who will chair the meeting, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis on the latest developments in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and the threats that it’s leader, Kim Jung-un, has made against the United States. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats will also participate in the briefing.

The meeting comes on the same day that local governments throughout the Washington, D.C. area are participating in “full-scale” terror attack drills in response to the developing conflict. The drills are being carried out in multiple locations throughout the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia and Maryland suburbs at the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R)-South Carolina, discussed the North Korea briefing during a dinner Monday evening at the White House with President Trump, and told reporters on Tuesday that his fellow colleagues will be advised on Trump’s plan to respond to North Korea’s recent acts of aggression.

“It’s clear to me that this president will not allow North Korea to develop an [intercontinental ballistic missile] with a nuclear weapon on top to hit America,” said Graham. “And I think the senators are gonna hear that tomorrow night.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, (D)-Md., the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Reuters that he hopes that North Korea’s recent hostilities can be countered without military action.

“It’s (the location of the meeting) their choice,” he said of Trump’s meeting request. “I hope that we hear their policy as to what their objectives are, and how we can accomplish that hopefully without dropping bombs.”

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PREPARING FOR THE WORST: D.C. PLANS ‘FULL SCALE’ ATTACK DRILL AS WAR WITH NORTH KOREA LOOMS

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Washington leaders have ordered a “full-scale” terror attack drill set for the nation’s capitol on Wednesday in light of mounting tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, federal officials have confirmed.

In a press release on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments stated (https://www.mwcog.org/newsroom/2017/04/24/full-scale-exercise-focused-on-preparing-for-complex-terror-attacks-to-include-national-capital-region-first-responders-emergency-managers/) that law enforcement officers and first responders have been ordered to participate in an exercise “designed to prepare for the possibility of a complex coordinated terror attack in the National Capital Region.”

Scott Boggs, managing director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at COG said the drill will include hundreds of police and first responders in addition to dozens of actors.

“Law enforcement officials practice and exercise their skills on their own regularly because that’s the best way to ensure we are always ready to respond quickly and professionally,” Boggs said in a statement. “On April 26, we’ll go one step further and stage a very realistic emergency event involving multiple sites and actors posing as the casualties. However, there is no reason for residents to be alarmed because the exercise will occur in a controlled environment.”

The drill will be held across six sites in D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland.

The drill is being held on the same day the president has asked all members of Senate to attend an emergency meeting at the White House where they will be briefed on the escalating conflict with North Korea.

After a meeting with the president, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters that even if North Korea has developed the technology for a preemptive nuclear strike, Trump will not allow that to happen.

“If I were North Korea, I would not underestimate President Trump’s resolve to stop them from getting a missile to hit our homeland,” he said.

Tensions between the United States and the rogue state have risen sharply in recent weeks as a series of North Korean missile tests have prompted dire warnings from President to watch who they provoke, adding that “all options are on the table” – including military strikes – to curb the North Korean leader Kim Jung un’s nuclear ambitions.

In a show of force, president Trump ordered a fleet of U.S. war ships with nuclear capability to stand by at the Korean border. The latest vessel, the USS Carl Vinson, is scheduled to arrive in the Sea of Japan within days, American Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday.

But as of Tuesday, the communist leader remains defiant.

“Now that we possess mighty nuclear power to protect ourselves from US nuclear threat, we will respond without the slightest hesitation to full-out war with full-out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike, and we will emerge victor in the final battle with the United States,” the North’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said on Saturday in a commentary that North Korea would not hesitate to launch “full out war” against the U.S., if provoked (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/north-korea-mad-170422145639890.html).

“The US has now gone seriously mad. It is mulling frightening the DPRK and achieving something with nuclear strategic bombers, nuclear carriers, etc,” Rodong Sinmun said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic Republic of Korea.

“However, the army and people of the DPRK will never be browbeaten by such bluffing. Under the situation where the US hurts the DPRK by force of arms, we have nothing to be bound to. The DPRK will answer to such war moves and provocations with pre-emptive strike of its own style and a great war of justice for national reunification.”

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PREPPING FOR WAR: NORTH KOREA HOLDS ‘LIVE FIRE’ DRILLS AS U.S. BATTLE SHIP DRAWS NEAR

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — North Korea on Tuesday conducted a mass live-fire drill that reportedly involved up to 400 artillery pieces under the supervision of leader, Kim Jong Un. The drill is just the latest indication that the rogue state is preparing to launch a preemptive strike against the U.S., say military experts.

The drill comes on the heels of the approach of a nuclear-powered American submarine that is currently barreling toward the region.

As reported on Monday, the entire U.S. Senate has been called to the White House for an emergency briefing of the conflict (https://rebekahworsham.org/2017/04/24/brink-of-war-entire-senate-called-to-white-house-for-briefing-on-north-korea-as-rogue-state-warns-of-preemptive-strike/).

According to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats are have cleared their schedule in order to update members of the Senate on the latest developments.

Meanwhile, China president Xi Jinping has warned Kim Jong Un that should war break out between the United States and North Korea, it will be Korea that suffers most.

In an editorial piece for the Global Times, a publication that is widely regarded as the official news source of the Communist Party, Chinese government officials wrote: “The game of chicken between Washington and Pyongyang has come to a breaking point.”

The warning continued that “it is more likely than ever that the situation will cross the point of no return” and that “all stakeholders will bear the consequences, with Pyongyang sure to suffer the greatest losses.”

Lu Kang, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, urged Kim Jung un to find a peaceful solution to the conflict before “it is too late”.

“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive and the tension is high,” said Kang.“We urge all sides concerned to keep restrained and calm and refrain from taking actions that could escalate tensions.”

The aid of the Chinese government comes just weeks after president Donald Trump met with Xi Jinping and essentially told him that destruction of the United States was not in China’s best interests. “If we go down, our debt to you and the trillions that you make from us in foreign trade goes down with us,” Trump reportedly told Jinping.

Despite warnings from their Chinese neighbors, North Korea has seemingly remained defiant.

“There is no limit to the strike power of the People’s Army armed with our style of cutting-edge military equipment including various precision and miniaturised nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” a government spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday to a Pyongyang-based newspaper (https://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0425/870024-donald-trump-wants-tougher-new-sanctions-on-north-korea/).

Trump on Tuesday said that “one way or another” North Korea’s nuclear weapons program must be stopped.

“North Korea is a big world problem,” said the president, “and it’s a problem we have to finally solve.”

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BRINK OF WAR: ENTIRE SENATE CALLED TO WHITE HOUSE FOR BRIEFING ON NORTH KOREA AS ROGUE STATE WARNS OF ‘PREEMPTIVE STRIKE’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump has asked the entire U.S. Senate to the White House on Wednesday for a briefing on the escalating situation in North Korea.

During his daily press briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the upcoming meeting, during which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats plan to fill the lawmakers in on the developing conflict.

The decision to call the nearly unprecedented briefing came after Trump’s conversation by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

On Monday, North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States would do whatever it takes to stop the communist country’s quickly expanding nuclear program.

“In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only US imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the US mainland and reduce them to ashes,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned.

Meanwhile, the rogue leader has taken another American citizen into custody, bringing the number of U.S. citizens imprisoned by the regime to three.

Tony Kim, a 58-year-old Korean-American professor, was detained at Pyongyang International Airport after teaching accounting at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology and working on aid and relief programs to North Korea for the past month.

Kim was reportedly taken into custody in North Korea on Saturday as he was trying to leave with his wife on a flight to China.

21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student Otto Warmbier was also detained on January 2, 2016, at Pyongyang International Airport, while visiting the country as a tourist with Young Pioneer Tour.

During a one hour trial, Warmbier was charged with stealing a political sign from a staff-only floor in the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang and committing “crimes against the state.”

The Ohio native was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

During an appearance on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlton Show” this month, Warbmier’s parents have reached out to president Trump for aid in bringing their son home.

“President Trump, I ask you: Bring my son home. You can make a difference here,” Fred Warmbier, the young man’s father pleaded.

Korean-American businessman Kim Dong Chul is also being held in a North Korean prison after arrested in October 2015 while in the city of Rason.

Kim had been detained on suspicion of engaging in spying and stealing state secrets. Kim was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor after North Korea’s Supreme Court found him guilty of espionage and subversion under Articles 60 and 64 of the North’s criminal code.

While U.S. government officials have demanded the release of the prisoners, North Korean officials say they are not willing to negotiate amid the current tensions between their country and the United States.