North Korea Gives American College Student Fifteen Years with Hard Labor

A college style theft of a “hotel trophy” in almost any other place on earth would be a misdemeanor with a sentence to fit the crime, but in North Korea, it is a 15 year sentence with hard labor.

In a tearful statement made before his trial, Warmbier told a gathering of reporters in Pyongyang he was offered a used car worth $10,000 if he could get a propaganda banner and was also told that if he was detained and didn’t return, $200,000 would be paid to his mother in the form of a charitable donation.

Warmbier said he accepted the offer because his family was “suffering from very severe financial difficulties.”

Warmbier also said he had been encouraged by the university’s “Z Society,” which he said he was trying to join. The magazine of the university’s alumni association describes the Z Society as a “semi-secret ring society” founded in 1892 that conducts philanthropy, puts on honorary dinners and grants academic awards.

The University of Virgina student, tearfully begged for forgiveness, but in a dictatorial nation, where an iron fist is the rule of law, Warmbier was charged with “an anti-state crime with ‘the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.'”

North Korea is certainly paranoid, regularly accusing Seoul and the United States of sending spies with intent to overthrow its government, by helping and enabling the U.S. allied South Korean government, with the aim to take control of the Korean Peninsula.

Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said he had met with North Korean diplomats to the U.N. in New York on Tuesday to request Warmbier’s release after the student’s parents and Kasich asked him to intervene. Richardson said he was neither encouraged nor discouraged by the meeting with the diplomats, who told him they would relay his request to Pyongyang.

Further complicating matters, Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations. The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang acts as a go-between in consular issues when U.S. citizens run afoul of North Korean authorities.

There are many lessons to be learned in this story, one being to adhere to the advise of the State Department and just don’t travel there.  Secondly, when in North Korea do as the North Koreans.

The State Dept. called for his pardon this month:

“We believe that he’s being held unjustly,” acting U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said at a press briefing on March 14. “He’s gone through the criminal process and he’s been detained for, as you noted, more than a year. We believe his sentence of 15 years’ hard labor is unduly harsh — harsh, rather — for the actions that Mr. Warmbier allegedly took.”

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of Warmbier’s sentence to 15 years of hard labor by the North Korean Supreme Court for allegedly attempting to steal a political banner from the Yanggakdo International Hotel — a particularly offensive crime in a country where a “cult of personality” surrounds the ruling Kim family.


Source: AP, Cavalier Daily






Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest