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 as another grieving American family lashes out at the USA policy of not ransoming their loved ones.
Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in March last year after traveling to North Korea while he was a student at the University of Virginia.
They were told - but did not believe - that shortly after the trial Otto Warmbier contracted botulism and was given a sleeping pill, and that he had never recovered. He said Warmbier was breathing on his own.
After nearly 17 months of confinement, the hermit kingdom freed the student on June 13 - however not before he went into a coma and suffered severe brain damage.
The doctors described Otto Warmbier, 22, as being in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness" but declined to discuss his outlook for improvement, saying such information would be kept confidential.
Warmbier, an American student, was imprisoned in North Korea and was apparently abused and beaten. A family friend, Michael Forsythe, said on Wednesday that the situation was kind of like the "elephant in the room" - everyone shared the family's grief, but no one wanted to bring it up. His father, Fred Warmbier, told Fox News that his son was "terrorized and brutalized" and has been in a coma for more than a year.
Warmbier was released from a North Korean prison and returned home to suburban Cincinnati on Tuesday in a coma.
The company that brought Warmbier to North Korea addresses safety concerns on the "North Korea FAQ" section of their website.
Otto Warmbier was a 21-year-old University of Virginia economics major with a bright future when he signed on for a short tourist trip to North Korea in December 2015. North Korea is lashing out at global sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs, saying they are being misapplied to everything from frozen chicken to skis to swimming flippers.
He was freed this week after State Department officials traveled to North Korea and demanded his release on humanitarian grounds.
The doctors said they are not aware of anything from his previous medical history, prior to his time in North Korea, that might cause cardiopulmonary arrest. In the end, he spent 17 months in North Korea before being released.
Doctors said they examined Warmbier's body and saw no evidence of fractures that might be evidence of severe beatings.
He said there was no reason for North Korea to keep his son's condition secret for more than a year and to deny him top medical care. It went to some lengths to care for sick detainees and released an 85-year-old man relatively quickly.
The father says that he and his wife, Cindy, only learned of their son's condition last week. When asked if he had spoken to Trump about his trip, Rodman said, "Well, I'm pretty sure he's pretty much happy with the fact that I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need".
It's not clear what lies ahead for Warmbier.
The "quiet diplomacy", as the State Department put it, came at a time of North Korean missile tests and increasing USA pressure on Kim Jong Un's totalitarian government. "The results speak for themselves".