Culture

To North Korea And Back: Otto Warmbier's Strange, Sad Trip

Otto Warmbier, the American college student who had been imprisoned in North Korea for over a year, has died, according to a statement from his family.

Otto Warmbier was a University of Virginia student when he was detained in January 2016 at the airport in Pyongyang while on his way home.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have been heightened by dozens of North Korean missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests since the beginning of past year.

The North Korean government said botulism is to blame for Warmbier's condition, but U.S. doctors said they found no evidence of the illness.

Otto Warmbier, the OH native recently released from North Korean detention, has died, his family announced Monday.

Warmbier was flown home Tuesday and immediately transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Otto Warmbier, 22, a USA student who was sentence to 15 years hard labor in North Korea.

His father, Fred Warmbier, said last week that he believed Otto had been fighting for months to stay alive to return to his family.

"Diplomats of a sovereign state are being robbed of a diplomatic package in the middle of NY where the headquarters of the United Nations is located and that serves as the venue for worldwide meetings including the United Nations General Assembly", the spokesman said.

"There's no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son and no excuse for the way they have treated so many others", Fred said. He says the USA holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier's "unjust imprisonment" and demands the release of three other "illegally detained" Americans.

Warmbier was a student in economics and commerce at the University of Virginia and was well liked in high school, graduating as salutatorian and playing on the football team. "I will pray for them and hope they find peace", Jonathan Bae said.

US President Donald Trump offered condolences to the Warmbier family and denounced North Korea as a "brutal regime" with no respect for "basic human decency" and said Warmbier faced tough conditions.

His father, Fred, lashed out at North Korea last week, telling a news conference, "there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long".

President Donald Trump had urged the nation to pray for Otto Warmbier, describing his ordeal as a "truly awful thing".

How harsh is prison in North Korea?

Warmbier was "generous, outgoing, sweet, smart as a whip, just an overall good guy", Danica White, his sophomore English teacher, recalled last week.

At the meeting, North Korea agreed that Swedish diplomats could visit all four American detainees.

U.S. President Donald Trump said what happened to Warmbier is a "truly bad thing".

"This is the Otto I know and love", Warmbier's brother Austin told CNN affiliate WCPO.



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