The newer generations of Americans value service as a method to learn and ultimately earn a living. That's fine, but, serving in country's where dictators slay relatives is not the place for any American.
Conclusions (click here): PCV are exposed to unique risks, but these risks have become significantly less fatal over the past 20 years when compared to prior Peace Corps data and matched US population data.
There is no perfect world and while serving the USA through initiatives like the Peace Corps, there will always be an element of danger. In countries like North Korea the USA does not maintain an embassy. Normally, in those countries the Embassy of Sweden comes forward to assist.
Young Americans should never take it upon themselves to bring about a sign of liberation. It is not their place and inevitably they pay for it. Another example is the Rachel Corrie act of bravery. There is almost never any good that comes of it.
Otto Warmbier went to North Korea and was exuberant about the freedom he had back in the states. That enthusiasm is backed in the USA by innumerable freedoms guaranteed by law. A simple act of defiance is never welcome in places that reject freedom. Look at the way journalists are treated, as if spies by countries engaged in free trade with First World countries such as the USA. Even Egypt, prosecuted journalists because of their dedication to freedom.
Otto Warmbier knew when he made that confession it was the worst thing he could do, but, he was desperate to have a small chance the North Koreans would send him home. He gambled with his life and he lost. Never admit to any form of treason of another government. Otto Warmbier was innocent in his enthusiasm and his expression as an American. He meant no malice so much as HOPE for the future of North Korea. That is all it was. It was an expression of hope. He was not a member of a revolution or even close to being a leader of a militia. Otto Warmbier was innocent of the charges placed on him and he should have stood his ground.
The US Secretary of State is the primary contact to engage foreign relations. It is under the protections afforded through the USA government that young Americans should be seeking purposeful adventure to other countries.
If they can't be safe, please stay home.