Otto Warmbier Would’ve Been Fine If He Just Obeyed The Law
It’s always tragic when someone dies in the custody and care of the state. “Obey the law and this wouldn’t happen” seems to be the popular response to outrage from these deaths. Yet, many of these same people voice outrage over the death of Otto Warmbier. Why?
Isaac Stone Fish explains how Pyongyang (North Korea) accused Otto Warmbier of trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel at 1:57 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 1, 2016. In a highly choreographed February 2016 news conference, Warmbier tearfully confessed to the “very severe and pre-planned crime” of trying to steal the poster, an act he said, reading from notes, was intended to “harm the motivation and work ethic of the Korean people.” After a sham trial several weeks later, Pyongyang convicted Warmbier of “hostile acts against the state” and sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor. A State Department spokesman called the sentencing “unduly harsh,” and, hours later, the Obama administration released a new, broad set of sanctions against the country – to “apply sustained pressure to the North Korean regime,” the White House said in a statement.
Not long after his sentencing, for unknown reasons, Warmbier fell into a coma. Pyongyang released him on June 13, 2017, and he died six days later; doctors say he suffered extensive brain damage.
Tens of thousands of foreigners visit North Korea each year. Many are Chinese. The exact number of Americans is unknown, but it’s likely around 1,000 annually. The State Department strongly warns against it, and Congress is considering legislation to ban American tourism to North Korea.
Fifteen Americans are known to have been detained in the country since 2009, with the majority of those held after the current leader Kim Jong Un came to power in December 2011.
What’s So Special About Otto Warmbier
His confession was coerced? That’s a feature of criminal justice systems all over the world.
He was young and had a bright promising future? It makes events like these that much sadder.
He was white?