Otto Warmbier – The Unlucky Hero

Otto Frederick Warmbier was a young American citizen and a college student who came into the news after becoming a victim of the unstable North Korean Political climate. In January 2016, Warmbier visited North Korea in the capacity of a tourist, where he was received a 15 years imprisonment sentence. The punishment was vetted out to Wambier as he tried to steal a Korean propaganda poster from the lobby of the hotel where he was staying.

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Just after one month of being imprisoned, Wambier was reported to have fallen in a coma, the reasons for which were unknown. After being held captive for almost 18 months, he was released. While North Korean authorities claimed that Wambier’s coma resulted from botulism as well as a sleeping pill, Physicians in USA doubted the claim. When he arrived in USA on June 13 2017, he was taken to the University Of Cincinnati Medical Centre, where physicians found that he had “severe neurological injury.” On June 19, 2017, just within six days of his arrival in USA, Warmbier died. His death is credited to North Korea.

Early life and Education

Warmbier was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on 12 December, 1994, to Cindy Garber and Fred Warmbier in an American-Jewish family, and raised in the same city. He had two younger siblings.

Warmbier studied at Wyoming High School from where he graduated in 2013. He later attended The University of Virginia, where he enrolled for a double major, with degrees in Economics and Commerce and was a junior when he made his trip to North Korea. Warmbier worked as an intern at his father’s metal-finishing company from 2010-2013.

Otto Warmbier – Parents (Pictures)

Mother Cindy

Father Fred

Trip to North Korea

Warmbiers father stated that his son was travelling to China to bring in the new year 2016 when he was lured by a China based company, Young Pioneer Tours, that offered a five day trip to North Korea and that the company specifically targeted young Westerners with their slogan “This is the trip your parents don’t want you to take!” emphasising that it was a safe for U.S. Citizens.

While staying at Pyongyang’s Yanggakdo International Hotel, Wambier allegedly tried stealing a propaganda sign that read “Let’s arm ourselves strongly with Kim Jong-il’s patriotism!” as a souvenir, unbeknownst to him that owning an item carrying the name and image of the North Korean Leader was considered as a serious crime by the country’s government. To prove that Warmbier offended the government an 18 seconds low-resolution video was released by the Korean Central News Agency, which showed an unrecognizable figure removing the poster from the wall and placing it on the floor.

Arrest and conviction

The North Korean government arrested Warmbier for theft on January 2, 2016, from Pyongyang International Airport. Warmbier was unaware that his crime was labelled “a hostile act against the state”. He was tried and later convicted for stealing the propaganda sign from a restricted hotel. Warmbier confessed to his ‘crime’ with the CCTV footage, witness testimony and his fingerprints serving as evidence. He was sentenced to hard labour for 15 years on March 16, 2016.

In a month’s time after his trial, Wambier reportedly suffered a medical crisis that damaged his brain severely but the North Korean government gave no update on his condition.

Otto Warmbier – Death Reason

Wambier’s release was announced by Rex Tillerson, the United States Secretary of State on 12 June 2017, under the direction of President Donald Trump. Just a week prior to his release, North Korean officials informed Warmbier’s parents that their son allegedly contracted food-borne botulism, and became comatose after he took a sleeping pill, but this claim was found false by U.S. physicians who examined him. It is still unknown how Warmbier suffered his condition. There seemed to be no signs of him recovering

Warmbier was released in a comatose state after staying in prison for 17 months and died on June 19, 2017 at 2.20 p.m at the young age of 22.

Doctors at University of Cincinnati Medical Center reviewed the case, analyzed two MRI scans of Warmbier sent by North Korea, and concluded that he had suffered a severe neurological injury. It is estimated that the injury to the brain may have happened before April 2016.  The medical unit added that the loss to the brain tissues, happened to a prolonged period of oxygen deprivation.  Warmbier’s father said that the doctors did not find any signs of botulism on his son. Doctors also didn’t find any proof of broken bones or injuries, though they did not defer from the fact that bruises or cuts, if any, had enough time to be healed.  It is  believed that an autopsy will not be of much help in giving vital information.  The medical name for the condition Warmbier was before death, is termed ‘unresponsive wakefulness’.

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