Korean Peninsula A to Z


Warmbier’s Death and Repercussions

Hot Issues of the Week2017-06-25
Warmbier’s Death and Repercussions

Otto Warmbier, the American student held for 17 months by North Korea, has died six days after his release.
Concerns are growing his death will strain an already tense relationship between Washington and Pyongyang and also adversely affect the first summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his US counterpart Donald Trump.
Warmbier's family said in a statement that the college student, who was in a coma at a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, died at 3:20 p.m. Monday. The family said the awful mistreatment their son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that his death was inevitable.
The University of Virginia student was detained by the North in January 2016 at the end of a five-day tour. He was accused of stealing propaganda materials from a Pyongyang hotel and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in prison.
He fell into a coma soon after his trial in March last year. The North has claimed that Warmbier contracted botulism and was given a sleeping pill, but never woke up. His condition had not been known until now.
The Swedish consulate which represents U.S. interests in North Korea had asked to meet with Warmbier, but Pyongyang rejected this call for over a year. His health conditions were first known only early this month during a special meeting proposed by the North Korean ambassador to the UN.
Pyongyang is known to have demanded a ransom for his release, which the U.S. rejected. Eventually, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun traveled to Pyongyang on June 13th and brought Warmbier home.
The student's arrival in the U.S. in a coma and his subsequent death has infuriated Americans. American doctors said that botulism rarely leads to a coma and they found no evidence of botulism. Instead, they said the student suffered extensive loss of brain tissue.
Following his death, moves to impose a travel ban on North Korea are gaining momentum in the U.S. President Trump said the U.S. once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as it mourns its latest victim.
Also, it won't be easy for President Moon Jae-in to propose dialogue with the North in his first summit meeting with Trump. Moon extended heartfelt condolences to Warmbier's family, and urged the North to swiftly release South Korean and U.S. citizens still being detained. He promised the Seoul government will do its best to achieve this goal.
Meanwhile, at the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in Washington Wednesday, the U.S. and China agreed that their companies should not do business with North Korean firms that are subject to UN sanctions.
The two sides also reaffirmed their aim is the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Latest News