U.S. court OKs sale of North Korea ship for Otto Warmbier claim

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on July 21st, 2019

New York City: A U.S. federal court has permitted the sale of the ship Wise Honest, the impounded North Korea vessel U.S. authorities seized in May, following a claim from the family of deceased U.S. student Otto Warmbier.

Voice of America reported Saturday the federal court for the Southern District of New York allowed the sale of the ship, following the recommendation of the prosecution.

New York prosecutors requested the interlocutory sale of the North Korean ship. They also said they had reached an agreement with Cynthia and Frederick Warmbier regarding the sale, according to the report.

In early July, the Warmbiers said in a five-page filing that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York could stake claim to the ship, and use it to help pay for a $500 million judgement they have filed against North Korea.

The Warmbiers have said the lack of North Korea response has compelled them to track down North Korean assets.

The Wise Honest is estimated to be worth between $1.5 million and $3 million.

Proceeds from the sales would be given to the Warmbiers, according to VOA.

In May, North Korea accused the United States of violating international law for the seizure of the Pyongyang-flagged vessel.

“The United States did not care about international law and violated principles recognized worldwide,” said North Korea ambassador to the United Nations Kim Song in May. “The United States has committed an act of sovereignty infringement by dispossessing our cargo ship.”

The Warmbier case highlights the risks of traveling to North Korea, one of the most isolated countries in the world. Otto Warmbier fell ill while in North Korea custody and died shortly after his release.

Following Kim Jong Un’s increased interactions with world leaders, tourism to the country may be expanding, however.

Seoul’s Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency’s Fukuoka bureau recently said North Korea’s biggest travel agency has begun to sell North Korea travel packages in partnership with “Three O Seven,” a Japanese firm, Seoul Pyongyang News reported Sunday.

South Korea, meanwhile, is banned from resuming South Korean tourism to North Korea’s Mount Kumgang region because of sanctions-related restrictions.

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