Based on the release of Otto Warmbier’s crime video on Thursday, North Korea appears to be staunchly standing behind the conviction of an American student to 15 years of hard labor for attempting to steal a propaganda banner.
The video was taken while Otto was visiting North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang. On Jan. 2, Warmbier was arrested for his crime while attempting to leave North Korea at the capital’s airport.
In the video, Otto can be seen carrying out the crime. Warmbier looks around in an abandoned hallway before taking down a propaganda sign — an action that he would later regret.
Otto’s crime and subsequent trial have been sources of international uproar since he was sentenced on Wednesday. Video of the act is unlikely to assuage the key world players who have spoken out about the incident, most prominently, of course, the United States government which has historically had an antagonistic relationship with North Korea. On the same day as Warmbier’s conviction, President Barack Obama signed an executive order which extended new sanctions to the country related to its flagrant censorship and continued exploration of weapons.
Video of Otto’s tearful confession, however, was not the key motivation for these new trade blocks. While Warmbier’s case coincided with the signing of the order, Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, explained that they were actually related to a longer-term project. Still, the decision to announce them a few hours after news of the sentence broke was perhaps more than merely serendipitous.
“President Obama’s new Executive Order and the Treasury’s simultaneous designations reflect the United States’ commitment to holding North Korea accountable for its destabilizing actions… These actions implement both the unanimous UNSCR approved earlier this month as well as recent bipartisan sanctions legislation on North Korea. We will work closely with our international partners to continue in a strong and unambiguous way to pressure North Korea to abandon its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
In a trial perhaps best described as Kafka-esque, Otto gave a bizarre confession on video where he apologized profusely for being coerced by the U.S. government to steal the North Korean propaganda sign. This reasoning was in contrast to when Warmbier had earlier said that the sign was to be hung in the church of a friend of his mother’s, previously reported Inquisitr.
“I never, never should have allowed myself to be lured by the United States administration to commit a crime in this country.”
While the overwhelming response in Otto’s situation was sympathetic, some were less than indignant. A collection of comments from stories about the Warmbier case collected by Inquisitr shows that many do not believe his release is a priority for the American government, nor that North Korea is in the wrong for doling out the draconian punishment.
“And he should have been smarter and realized that stealing would get him an incredibly harsh sentence especially since he’s an American. I’m sorry but a 12-year-old could figure that out, he’s an idiot and he deserves to stay where he is. America shouldn’t be responsible for rescuing citizens who get themselves in trouble. You break it, you buy it.”
It’s unlikely that the Otto Warmbier crime video will dissuade adventurous travelers from visiting North Korea. Since March, 2009, 12 Americans have been arrested during their trip to the Hermit Kingdom. One was detained for leaving a bible behind in a hotel room, reported The Guardian.
[Image via Jon Chol Jin/AP Images and Feng Li/Getty Images]