Korea is in a state of unresponsive wakefulness, doctors say

US official's 'quiet diplomacy' led to Warmbier's release

Doctors treating Warmbier in the U.S., where he arrived this week after being released by Pyongyang on "humanitarian grounds", said that the student is in "a state of unresponsive wakefulness", having suffered a severe brain injury, most likely due to a cardiopulmonary arrest.

He said he received "a very nice phone call" Wednesday from President Donald Trump, who said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson worked hard to bring Otto home.

North Korea has released 22-year-old USA student Otto Warmbier from a 15 year sentence of hard labor, officials said June 13, 2017, as former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang.

His father, Fred Warmbier, said Thursday he does not believe North Korea's explanation that the coma resulted from botulism and a sleeping pill.

Fred Warmbier said the same Thursday.

According to Dr. Kanter, Warmbier "shows no understanding of language" and has "extensive loss of brain tissue" which was likely caused by cardiopulmonary arrest.

Doctors with the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Warmbier was taken Tuesday night upon his arrival in OH, said he currently has severe injury to all regions of his brain and is now in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness", according to the AP.

North Korea has arrested 16 American citizens and is still holding three - Kim Dong Chul, Kim Sang-duk, and Kim Hak-song. We're trying to make him comfortable.

His father, Fred Warmbier, said the family was proud of him, calling him "a fighter".

Mitchell began the segment at the top of the morning show's 8 a.m. ET hour by lamenting: "The tragic return of college student Otto Warmbier, now released from North Korea, but in an unexplained comatose state, is now becoming a political issue".

Rodman has been on a kind of redemption tour in North Korea this week, following his disastrous trip in 2014, when he went on a tirade on CNN and suggested that Kenneth Bae, an imprisoned American, deserved what he got.

North Korea released Warmbier six days later.

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Warmbier was planning to be in the country for a five-day stay before flying to Beijing to participate in a 10-day tour of two Asian financial capitals, Hong Kong and Singapore, sponsored by his school: University of Virginia.

"There's no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son", he said.

In its first official comment since Warmbier was returned home, North Korea said it released him for humanitarian reasons. "So do we. We have few answers", Fred Warmbier said.

Doctors say they do not believe Warmbier has any conscious awareness and they have not found signs of active botulism, a rare poisoning caused by toxins.

"We have no certifiable knowledge of the cause or circumstances of his neurological injuries", Dr. Daniel Kanter, professor of neurology and director of the Neurocritical Care Program at the University of Cincinnati, said at the press conference.

Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, called for an investigation into what happened to Warmbier.

It's unclear if Yun knew as he set off for North Korea that he'd be allowed to bring Warmbier home.

The world has become used to awful stories of brutality from North Korea.

His parents said they learned of their son's condition - what North Korea called a coma - only last week.

"The results speak for themselves", Mr. Warmbier said when asked whether the Obama administration had done enough.

But "what this accumulation of detainees reveals is that North Korea is a risky place, it is easy to step over some line", he said, adding he was increasingly in favour of a tourism ban because the "hostages" were a liability for the USA government.

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