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Monday, 19 June 2017 06:32

Why I can’t stop thinking about Otto Warmbier

Written by  Fred Hiatt

I can’t stop thinking about Otto Warmbier. And the more I think about him, the more I remember all the smart people I’ve heard over the years explaining why the North Korean regime — the regime that “brutalized and terrorized” Otto, as his father said last week — shouldn’t be challenged or destabilized.

Warmbier is a smart and immensely likable kid who graduated from high school in 2013 in his hometown of Wyoming, Ohio, and enrolled in the University of Virginia. Toward the end of 2015 he was traveling in China when he signed up, out of curiosity and a sense of adventure, for a four-day New Year’s trip to North Korea. As the rest of his tour group departed from Pyongyang International Airport on Jan. 2, 2016, Warmbier was detained.

Two months later he showed up on North Korean television confessing to his supposed offense: trying to pilfer a propaganda poster from his hotel to bring home as a souvenir. We don’t know if the coerced confession was truthful or made up. Even if truthful, the resulting sentence of 15 years at hard labor was obscene.

Warmbier, who is now 22, wasn’t seen or heard from again until last week, when the Trump administration managed to secure his release and fly him home to Ohio.

Read more at WashingtonPost

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