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It was a visit to Pyongyang's Yanggakdo Hotel that resulted in the detention and eventual death of American student Otto Warmbier. US doctor Calvin Sun recalls his night inside a secret floor in the hotel and warns other travellers to stay away.
Calvin Sun had been awake for almost 24 hours when North Korean guards boarded the minibus that was due to take him and his friends to Pyongyang International Airport and out of the country.
Issue - Officials - Group
There was an issue, the officials announced. The group would not be allowed to leave until it was resolved.
The bus fell silent.
Sun - Excursion - Country - World - Hermit
Sun thought back to his one-week excursion to the most isolated country in the world, nicknamed the Hermit Kingdom. It had been one of his most memorable trips.
"Of all the things we had done in North Korea that week," says Sun, "it never occurred to me that our visit to the fifth floor may have been the problem."
Mind - Guards - Travel - Group - Minibus
It still didn't cross his mind when the guards asked the travel group to step out of the minibus.
Calvin Sun was born and raised in New York City by Chinese parents. By the time he reached his 20s, he had barely left the state. As an undergraduate at Columbia University, 20 minutes away from his home in New York, he didn't like venturing outside his comfort zone.
Trip - Egypt - Thirst - World - Travel
But a spontaneous trip to Egypt in 2010 sparked a thirst for exploring the world. He set up a travel blog, The Monsoon Diaries, and quickly gained a cult following.
Sun used every break and weekend to explore a new country, with the goal of never repeating an experience or going back to the same place.
Year - School - Sun - Summer - Break
Before his second year at medical school, Sun decided to use the summer break to embark on a trip that would start somewhere in the Middle East and...
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