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Risky tourism: What safety precautions do you take when traveling?

Travellers stand in front of an information desk at Pyongyang airport on April 17, 2017.
Travellers stand in front of an information desk at Pyongyang airport on April 17, 2017.
ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

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Otto Warmbier, an American university student died earlier this month after being released from a North Korean labor camp.

And now, controversies have risen about his decision to visit the country. Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea after being convicted of stealing a propaganda banner in the country, was brought back to the U.S. in a coma, and died days after his return. He was 22 years old.

As reported by USA Today, University of Delaware anthropology professor, Katherine Dettwyler, was fired last week for a since-deleted Facebook post accusing the deceased student of being similar to typical “young, white, rich, clueless males” she sees in her classes. While it has not been proven that Warmbier stole the propaganda banner in the North Korean hotel where he stayed, the incident is leading some to question whether he should have traveled to the country at all.

With North Korea as a growing threat to the U.S., should he have taken more caution? What would make you go to a country that’s seen as dangerous? Do you have specific precautions you take to ensure safety when traveling to a less developed place? Have you ever realized you were in a dangerous travel situation and how did you handle it?

Guest host Libby Denkmann in for Larry Mantle


Paul Theroux, travel writer and novelist, whose numerous books include “The Great Railway Bazaar” (Mariner Books; Reprint edition, 2006), and his newest, “Mother Land” (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)