Funeral for US college student who died after North Korean detention

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Friends and family members will gather in OH on Thursday to say goodbye to an American student who died days after being returned to the United States in a coma following 17 months in captivity in North Korea.

The comments published by KCNA were North Korea's first reaction to Otto Warmbier's death in a USA hospital Monday after it released him for what it called humanitarian reasons.

Doctors who examined Warmbier upon his arrival in the USA described his condition as a state of "unresponsive wakefulness", and indicated he suffered a "severe neurological injury" of unknown cause.

The 22-year-old American university student was arrested while visiting North Korea as a tourist, accused of stealing a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

Recall two days ago that the United States of America pressured China to pile more economic sanctions on North Korea led by defiant leader Kim Jong Un for its continued missile tests.

But according to KCNA, a spokesman of the North's National Reconciliation Council said: "Our relevant agencies treat all criminals who committed crimes against (our) republic strictly based on domestic law and worldwide standards, and Warmbier was no different".

"The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well", the spokesman said.

The Warmbiers also met with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who also served as US ambassador to the United Nations, who said he made numerous efforts to bring their son home.

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Terry made note of the fact that four days after Warmbier was arrested, on January 6, 2016, the North Koreans conducted their fourth nuclear test.

"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", Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement.

"The smear campaign against DPRK staged in the USA compels us to make firm determination that humanitarianism and benevolence for the enemy are a taboo and we should further sharpen the blade of law", the spokesman added, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Cynthia Meis, his college admissions counselor from high school, said she admires the strength displayed by Warmbier's parents in the face of such loss and the glare of global media attention.

Park Sang-hak, an activist who heads Fighters For a Free North Korea, and six others, launched balloons carrying 300,000 leaflets and 2,000 one-dollar bills, at 5:30 a.m. Thursday, local time, according to Yonhap.

The death of an American college student due to his barbaric treatment while being held for 17 months in North Korea serves as another example of that rogue country's disregard for acceptable norms of global behavior.

North Korea accepted repeated requests from the present USA. administration, the spokesman said, and repatriated the student on humanitarian grounds "in consideration of his bad health". But they found no evidence that he had contracted botulism, casting doubt on North Korea's claim that he fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill.

For their part, the Chinese envoys pressed for negotiations, proposing again a "dual-track approach" in which North Korea would suspend its nuclear and missile activities while the United States and South Korea would halt large-scale military exercises. Three Americans also remain in custody in the North.