Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
World News | By Penny Hart

With Warmbier in coma, North Korea's hostage 'playbook' backfires

With Warmbier in coma, North Korea's hostage 'playbook' backfires

Dennis Rodman may not have been sent to North Korea by U.S. President Donald Trump, but that's not stopping the former basketball star from promoting his former reality TV co-star.

It was 20 days before North Korea finally announced he was being detained and being accused of a "hostile act".

Then in May, Yun met in the Norwegian capital of Oslo with senior officials from North Korea's Foreign Ministry.

"If the North Koreans immediately released the remaining three prisoners, it could set up an atmosphere for potentially serious talks", she added. "This is pretty much what happened in this case", Lankov said.

While in North Korea, Rodman was shown in video and photos presenting the isolated country's sports minister Kim Il Guk with off-the-wall gifts that included a copy of Trump's book "The Art of the Deal", soap, two autographed jerseys and a copy of "Where's Waldo?".

North Korea released Warmbier early last week after detaining him for 18 months.

Although the U.S. policy does not ban its citizen from visiting North Korea, the U.S. State Department strongly advises against it. "The message is that the only way forward is through engagement", North Korea expert Ken Gause told the Yonhap news agency.

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Comey said in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. "And - but I did not tell him about the Flynn part". Sessions may have had even more contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin's government than previously disclosed.

USA and North Korean officials said Rodman played no role in freeing Warmbier and the timing of the release and Rodman's arrival was a coincidence.

Yun boarded a private aircraft along with two doctors and arrived last Monday in Pyongyang, where they were met by North Korean officials and saw Warmbier in a hospital.

All of this is deeply upsetting to former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who had been negotiating for Warmbier's release.

Richardson can certainly sympathize with the grieving father, but he said Warmbier's prolonged incarceration wasn't for lack of effort by the Obama White House.

US officials didn't say whether Yun met with other North Korean diplomats while in the country or conducted more extensive diplomacy. A former U.N. ambassador experienced in negotiating for political prisoners, Richardson said he had met with members of the North Korean delegation to the United Nations in NY 20 times since Warmbier was jailed.

But Yun managed to see the other three detained Americans while in Pyongyang, providing the US with much-sought information about their condition. He was never contacted by the US government or the tour company that arranged the visit. In an emotional news conference in OH, the father did not demur when asked if Obama could have done more.

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