The 22-year old student of the University of Virginia, who was released by North Koreal merely a week ago, has reportedly died. Otto Warmbier, who was in coma when released by the North Korean authorities passed away without regaining consciousness, according to his family and friends.
The young American student who was taken in custody when he was all set to leave North Korea on charges of ‘stealing’ a propaganda poster has left his parents terribly shaken. His parents, for more than a year, have been campaigning for his release. When eventually he was released, he didn’t survive the hard labor that he had to endure in North Korea and apparent torture from North Korean authorities.
His parents, visibly shaken by the death of a youthful son released a statement, mourning his death. In the statement, Fred and Cindy Warmbier called their son “a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds.” They said his countenance had changed from anguished to at peace since arriving home to Ohio, and they lambasted the “torturous mistreatment” he received from the North Koreans.
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There is no denying that for parents, it is the most difficult thing to endure the death of a young son and then announce it. The entire nation seems to be in mourning, with Fred and Cindy Warmbier, his parents.
The statement said, “It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home. Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20pm. It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost – future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds. But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched – Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two – that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.
“We would like to thank the wonderful professionals at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who did everything they could for Otto. Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.
“When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13th he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands. He looked very uncomfortable – almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed – he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that. We thank everyone around the world who has kept him and our family in their thoughts and prayers. We are at peace and at home too”, the statement went on to add.
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The parents must have endured unimaginable pain and sorrow over around one and half years since he was snatched from them by the oppressive North Korean regime. “We’ve been brutalized for the last 18 months… misinformation, no information. We are proud of the fact that our family is basically happy, positive people, and we’re going to stay that way,” Fred Warmbier said.
The student had gone to North Korean with the Young Pioneer Tours company. The regime said that the young man actually took away a propaganda poster at the Yanggakdo International Hotel, where he and about 100 other westerners were staying. He was reportedly arrested from the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport, where he was all set to board a flight. Except him, all the members of the tour were allowed to leave. According to NPR, on camera, in a forced confession, Otto “said he stole the propaganda poster on behalf of a member of the Friendship United Methodist Church in Wyoming, Ohio, who wanted it ‘as a trophy.’ In exchange, he would receive a used car worth $10,000.”