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McCain: Anyone ‘Stupid’ Enough to Visit North Korea is Responsible for Their Own Welfare

A day after American Otto Warmbier died from the effects of 18 months in a North Korean prison, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., used the word “stupid” to describe anyone who wants to visit North Korea knowing what happened to the 22-year-old student.

Warmbier died after 17 months in a North Korean prison. He had been accused of taking a political banner during a 2016 trip to North Korea.

“If people are that stupid they still want to go to that country, then at least they assume the responsibility for their welfare,” McCain said.

“There should at least be a form for them to fill out that says, ‘If I go to North Korea, I understand I am taking a great risk, and I do not hold the American government responsible. Now I hope the American government will help, etc., etc. But I realize what has happened to previous American citizens, including their deaths,’” McCain said.

McCain, who has consistently denounced North Korea, said Monday after Warmbier’s death that he “lived the nightmare in which the North Korean people have been trapped for 70 years: forced labor, mass starvation, systematic cruelty, torture, and murder.”

His also said the U.S. “cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers.”

Although American citizens are not currently banned from traveling to North Korea, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that step might have come after Warmbier’s death.

“I think we should strongly consider it,” Corker said. “It puts us in a really precarious situation when Americans are detained there.”

The State Department warns travelers thinking about going to North Korea. The current warning admonishes anyone thinking of a visit that they will be “at serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the State Department might go further.

“We have been evaluating whether we should put some type of travel visa restriction to North Korea,” Tillerson said. “We have not come to a final conclusion, but we are considering it.”

Warmbier’s trip was booked through a group called Young Pioneers, which is based in Beijing. A statement form the group after Warmbier’s death said it would no longer organize tours to North Korea for U.S. residents.

“The devastating loss of Otto Warmbier’s life has led us to reconsider our position on accepting American tourists,” it said in a statement. “The assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high.”