President Trump, who will reportedly sit down with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un by May, chided the DPRK for its “depraved character” during his January State of the Union address, citing hostage Otto Warmbier as an example.
“Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June — horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return,” Trump said.
“Otto’s parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight — along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta. You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all,” he added. “Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with American resolve.”
Trump didn’t mention the three Americans still being held by the North Korean regime, Americans who could face the same fate as Warmbier the longer they remain in the regime’s custody.
Kim Dong Chul
Kim Dong Chul, a businessman and naturalized U.S. citizen who previously lived in Fairfax, Va., was arrested in North Korea’s special economic zone in October 2015 and accused of spying for the South Koreans, which Seoul denied. In a forced confession, Kim said he was guilty of espionage and spreading Christianity. Kim, 64, was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor.
Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-duk, 59, was a professor at China’s Yanbian University of Science and Technology who had been visiting to teach at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, the only private college in the country with a sizable foreign staff, for a period of several weeks. Kim had also been a humanitarian aid worker in North Korea and helped deliver critical foreign aid to regions devastated by 2016 floods. He and his wife were arrested in April as they tried to fly out of the country; she was released while he was detained and accused of committing hostile acts.
“My mom, my brother and I miss our dad so much. We’re so worried about him and his health,” Sol Kim said in a video last month, noting that diplomats briefly saw Tony Kim when they arrived to pick up Warmbier.
Sol Kim said that his father is about to become a grandfather, yet they’ve not been able to have any contact with him. The family is not aware of any criminal charges against Tony Kim.
Kim Hak-Song, 55, was working in agricultural development at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, managing experimental research to address the country’s food shortage. He was arrested in May. Like Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim and former hostage Kenneth Bae, Kim Hak-Song is a Christian.