Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after being detained in North Korea for more than a year, will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. He’ll be accompanying Vice President Mike Pence who says it’s to remind the world of North Korea’s atrocities.
“Honored that Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, will join us at @pyeongchang2018 in S Korea. He & his wife remind the world of the atrocities happening in N Korea. As @POTUS made clear at the #SOTU, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory w/ American resolve,” Pence tweeted.
Honored that Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, will join us at @pyeongchang2018 in S Korea. He & his wife remind the world of the atrocities happening in N Korea. As @POTUS made clear at the #SOTU, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory w/ American resolve https://t.co/LlPMt6SvMh
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 5, 2018
In 2016, Otto Warmbier, a student, was arrested in North Korea for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years in prison and hard labor. A month after he was sentenced, Otto suffered a brain injury, the result of which was unknown, and flown back to the USA. He was in a comatose state and died two days after when his fever spiked. He was 22.
The North Korean Government claims that Otto contracted botulism, a type of food poisoning caused by a bacteria that grows on poorly sterilized canned meats and other preserved foods, while in detention. Doctors immediately disputed the North Korean government’s botulism diagnosis, as they said the state of Otto’s body was not consistent with that of a person who’d died from poisoning.
The presence of the Warmbier’s is a not-so-subtle message to North Korea amidst tripwire-tight tensions. The family was also present during President Trump’s State of the Union address, when he brought up Otto’s death as evidence of North Korea’s cruelty.
“You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all,” Trump said
The Olympics begin in Pyongyang, South Korea on Thursday.