Otto Warmbier Dies Days After Return from N. Korea

Otto Warmbier has died. His parents released this statement:

It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20pm.

...Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today. When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable — almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed — he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.

I believe (and hope) he could sense it too. This is such a sad story and such an unnecessary death. [More...]

He was such an accomplished young man:

Warmbier was much loved. He was homecoming king and captain of his high-school soccer team, an expert in underground rap music and economics, a thrift-store shopper who wore his selections, like a purplish-striped sweater under a houndstooth blazer, with a big, confident grin.

He was a top student at U-Va., with a scholarship designed for the most “intellectually curious” students...He took care of friends and family, offering advice to his younger brother and sister...

....He was unusually disciplined, certain of his major and with his path to a career in finance mapped out early on; as a junior he had already long had enough credits to graduate, a summer at the London School of Economics completed, and summer internship likely to lead to a job offer after graduation.

My condolences to the Warmbier family.

< Sunday Open Thread | Tuesday TV and Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Reading between the lines, (none / 0) (#1)
    by Peter G on Mon Jun 19, 2017 at 08:17:03 PM EST
    it appears to me that the family may have decided to "pull the plug" after hearing the full diagnosis. He may even have been brain dead on arrival.

    I join you in being sad (none / 0) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 09:01:04 AM EST
    For the family.  And for Otto.  But one thing I have wondered since this story became new.

    Whatthehell was he doing in NK?

    I am fine with people going where ever they want when ever they want but some judgement might have been brought to bear.

    I did a quick search basically asking the question I ask above.  The best explanation seemed to be the BBC.  Which included this quote -

    He went through a China-based company called Young Pioneer Tours, which boasts of providing "budget travel to destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from".

    You know what, sometimes you really should just listen to your mother.  I hope this event discourages others from thinking, wow, it would be kewl to go to the most dangerous country on earth.


    The Young Pioneers travel (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 11:01:08 AM EST
    company is based in China. The website stayed it's safe to go to NK. Now the compny purportedly will not book 0pelple from the U.S.

    It is terribly sad, but count me in on those (none / 0) (#4)
    by Cashmere on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 12:09:30 PM EST
    who are perplexed that he took the trip from a Chinese tour company to begin with to N. Korea.  Not a smart idea.  I am also offended by the father's criticism of the Obama administration for not doing enough.  Just my two cents.

    actual that is my thought (none / 0) (#5)
    by nyjets on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 12:33:35 PM EST
    When you visit a forging country, you HAVE to respect their laws and be very careful. You can not expect the government to bail you out just because you are an American.

    Certain something of this nature existed when (none / 0) (#7)
    by Cashmere on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 12:41:55 PM EST
    the young man decided to travel to North Korea.



    ... did anything wrong. The North Koreans claimed that he stole a propaganda poster off a hotel wall, but their only evidence was a grainy surveillance video in which the alleged perpetrator was unidentifiable.

    There is nothing in Warmbier's past which would otherwise lead us to believe that he'd do something so stupid like that. But the same can't be said for the Kim regime, which has been known to seize foreigners as hostages from time to time when they want something from the West. Speaking for myself only, I've reason to believe that this time was any different.

    I really wish people would stop blaming the victim first, and at least make an effort to understand the totality of the circumstances which ultimately led to this regrettable tragedy.

    Yes, Otto Warmbier showed questionable judgment in going to Pyongyang in the first place, but he was also only 21 years old at the time. If he's guilty of anything, it's likely being young and naïve enough to believe that his safety could be entrusted to both the tour company and the North Koreans.



    North Korea is the Edward D. Woods of (none / 0) (#21)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Jun 29, 2017 at 01:39:02 AM EST
    Propaganda production, unintentionally hilarious despite their best efforts.  If I didn't know how steel heeled an official response would be, I'd have been tempted to grab a sample if I'd been fool enough to visit the country.

    Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms by making mushroom cultivation scientific, intensive and industrialized!


    We Really Know Next to Nothing (none / 0) (#6)
    by RickyJim on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 12:41:09 PM EST
    I see from the coverage, the press hasn't found:

    1. A witness to his supposed "crime".
    2. Any verified information on exactly how he suffered his injuries.

    North Korea released video of (none / 0) (#9)
    by Anne on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 12:47:15 PM EST
    someone they claim was Warmbier taking the poster down.

    From what I can see, that could have been anyone - not sure how it could be proven to be Warmbier.

    Don't know if anyone will ever know what put him into a state of "unresponsive wakefulness."


    this was in the BBC (none / 0) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 12:53:26 PM EST
    i linked to
    "They made the decision to take an American. It was just his time, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

    the website (none / 0) (#8)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 12:43:42 PM EST
    said its safe.  i assume thats what you meant?


    well if the chinese website says its safe.  however they did have the forethought to know your mother would not want you going there.


    I just wish people could learn from these (none / 0) (#11)
    by Anne on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 01:22:08 PM EST
    terrible experiences, and make the decision not to go to countries like this.  Things that don't seem like a big deal to us loom large in their ability to take your freedom and your life - and I just don't think it makes sense to risk either.  Especially not now, when Americans could be considered prize catches to strike back at a vulgar, petty and pugnacious president.

    Indeed (none / 0) (#14)
    by smott on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 04:37:15 PM EST
    It sounds hard hearted and it is, but it's N Korea.
    Don't go there.
    Don't let your kids go there.
    They give zero Effs about you or your kid's life.

    I hope that youngsters who have the need to explore can make safer choices.


    From wiki: (none / 0) (#13)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 02:57:39 PM EST
    In a press conference on February 29, 2016, Warmbier repeated his confession that he had stolen the banner to take back to the United States.

    He said he stole it for the mother of a friend who wanted it as a souvenir to be hung on the wall of a church in his hometown of Wyoming, Ohio. He said that she offered him a used car worth $10,000 as payment, and that if he was detained and didn't return, $200,000 would be paid to his mother in the form of a charitable donation.

    Warmbier said he accepted the offer because his family was "suffering from very severe financial difficulties".[30] He also said he was encouraged in committing his act by his desire to join the Z Society, a "semi-secret ring society" and philanthropic organization at the University of Virginia.

    Warmbier read the following statement at his trial:

        I never should have allowed myself to be lured by the United States administration to commit a crime in this country. I wish that the United States administration never manipulate people like myself in the future to commit crimes against foreign countries. I entirely beg you, the people and government of the DPR Korea, for your forgiveness. Please! I have made the worst mistake of my life! Please! Think of my family.[31][32]

    Sounds legit to me. Not.

    Whenever my family... (none / 0) (#16)
    by unitron on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 04:55:34 PM EST
    ...is suffering from very severe financial difficulties, I know my first thought is to spend money on an overseas trip.

    I did stupid things when I was 20, too... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Aspidistra on Tue Jun 20, 2017 at 04:37:55 PM EST
    It's just that I didn't die from them.  Poor guy, and his poor family.  What a waste.

    Parents rejecy performance of anything but an (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Wed Jun 21, 2017 at 01:12:51 AM EST
    external autopsy.

    Why? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Jun 26, 2017 at 07:58:23 AM EST
    It's been suggested (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Nemi on Tue Jun 27, 2017 at 06:12:45 AM EST
    the parents had religious reasons for not wanting an autopsy. Or maybe as this article, Why have Otto Warmbier's parents declined post mortem examination? speculates:

    Given their conviction their son's condition was brought about as the result of prolonged torture at the hands of his captors, it's understandable that they may view the procedure as yet another violation of his body.

    That they were able [to] "protect" him from this bodily invasion in death -- as they were unable to in life -- may also give them some comfort.

    I feel so bad for the parents and can't even begin to imagine what they have gone and are still going through, but I can certainly see how this could bring some sort of comfort. It's all just so, so sad.


    Shipping back a brain dead prisoner... (none / 0) (#20)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Jun 29, 2017 at 01:21:42 AM EST
    effectively means no witness.

    I don't know why this didn't occur to anyone.