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Three Americans Still Held by North Korea Following Otto Warmbier’s Release

The surprise release this week of American college student Otto Warmbier from a North Korean prison has come at an otherwise fraught time between the isolated nation and the United States.

Since President Donald Trump took office in January, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered roughly nine missile or weapons-related tests — in defiance of international pressure to end such provocative actions.

While 22-year-old Warmbier’s return to Ohio after 17 months in custody was celebrated by his family, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center revealed Thursday that he remains in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness” — meaning he has reflexes but is not considered conscious.

Warmbier’s parents told The Washington Post and The Associated Press that their son had been in a coma since March 2016 — the same month he was convicted. They said the North Koreans claimed botulism and a sleeping pill caused his condition, although doctors in Cincinnati later found no evidence of botulism.

What happened to the study abroad student following his arrest in 2016 over an alleged “hostile” act is shrouded in mystery. But his condition is raising concern for the remaining three known Americans who are currently detained in North Korea, and whether Warmbier’s freedom signals something larger — such as more releases or even an easing of the two countries’ relations.

Who are the three Americans detained by the North Koreans?

Two of them are academics, and neither appears to have gotten a trial yet:

Image: Tony Kim

American professor Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-duk.