American student sentenced to 15 years' hard labor in North Korea

A University of Virginia student who was arrested in January for trying to steal a propaganda banner from his hotel has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for his "severe" crime.

Washington Post:

Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old from Cincinnati, Ohio, was convicted after a one-hour trial at North Korea’s Supreme Court, China’s Xinhua news agency, which has a bureau in Pyongyang, reported Wednesday. Japan’s Kyodo News and the Associated Press also reported the verdict. Diplomats from the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, which represents American interests in North Korea because the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with the country, were present at the trial.

North Korea’s state media had not commented on the case by 2 p.m. local time.

Warmbier is being held at a particularly sensitive time, when annual military drills between the United States and South Korea are coinciding with international sanctions against North Korea’s regime to punish it for its recent nuclear test and missile launches.

North Korea always protests the joint military drills in South Korea because it sees them as a pretext for an invasion, but Pyongyang’s reaction is particularly ferocious this year because the allies are practicing “decapitation strikes” on North Korea’s leadership and taking out its nuclear and missile facilities.

Furthermore, the sanctions imposed by the United Nations, coupled with direct measures taken by the United States, Japan and South Korea, are the toughest yet and could inflict a significant amount of pain on the North Korean regime.

Warmbier, an economics major, was arrested at Pyongyang airport on January 2, at the end of a five-day tour to North Korea. But it wasn’t until three weeks later that Kim Jong Un’s regime announced it was holding the Ohio native for an unspecified “hostile act” against the state.

I hate to be critical of someone who is in such dire straits, but what was this kid thinking?  Could he have been that oblivious to the nature of the North Korean regime that he thought it might be kind of cool to have a propaganda banner hanging in his dorm room?

Now come the months, and possibly years, of fruitless negotiations until the bribe we pay to get our citizen back is sufficiently humiliating that it satisfies the paranoia of the North Korean government.  Given the state of relations we currently have with Kim and his henchmen, Mr. Warmbier will have to endure the worst before he sees home again.

A University of Virginia student who was arrested in January for trying to steal a propaganda banner from his hotel has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for his "severe" crime.

Washington Post:

Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old from Cincinnati, Ohio, was convicted after a one-hour trial at North Korea’s Supreme Court, China’s Xinhua news agency, which has a bureau in Pyongyang, reported Wednesday. Japan’s Kyodo News and the Associated Press also reported the verdict. Diplomats from the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, which represents American interests in North Korea because the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with the country, were present at the trial.

North Korea’s state media had not commented on the case by 2 p.m. local time.

Warmbier is being held at a particularly sensitive time, when annual military drills between the United States and South Korea are coinciding with international sanctions against North Korea’s regime to punish it for its recent nuclear test and missile launches.

North Korea always protests the joint military drills in South Korea because it sees them as a pretext for an invasion, but Pyongyang’s reaction is particularly ferocious this year because the allies are practicing “decapitation strikes” on North Korea’s leadership and taking out its nuclear and missile facilities.

Furthermore, the sanctions imposed by the United Nations, coupled with direct measures taken by the United States, Japan and South Korea, are the toughest yet and could inflict a significant amount of pain on the North Korean regime.

Warmbier, an economics major, was arrested at Pyongyang airport on January 2, at the end of a five-day tour to North Korea. But it wasn’t until three weeks later that Kim Jong Un’s regime announced it was holding the Ohio native for an unspecified “hostile act” against the state.

I hate to be critical of someone who is in such dire straits, but what was this kid thinking?  Could he have been that oblivious to the nature of the North Korean regime that he thought it might be kind of cool to have a propaganda banner hanging in his dorm room?

Now come the months, and possibly years, of fruitless negotiations until the bribe we pay to get our citizen back is sufficiently humiliating that it satisfies the paranoia of the North Korean government.  Given the state of relations we currently have with Kim and his henchmen, Mr. Warmbier will have to endure the worst before he sees home again.