While such an instance would be treated as a misdemeanor in many countries, North Korea’s infamously strict regime and human rights violations allow the state to treat even the pettiest of wrongdoings as serious crimes.
Of course this isn’t an isolate action. Many journalists and government workers have already acknowledged that all of this is happening among steepening sanctions from the US towards North Korea and growing threats from the Asian nation’s alleged nuclear weapons program.
Clearly, there is a political agenda behind the student’s arrest and conviction.
While other foreigners in similar situations have previously been released after serving only short amounts of their sentences, the fact remains that North Korea is using Warmbier as a pawn to intimidate America and other nations as well as show its own people the ‘power’ it has over the West in such circumstances.
After an awkward and uncomfortable televised “confession,” in which Otto admitted to having been coerced by the United States government, church workers in Ohio, and a secret university organization, he was later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
Like our Videos...
It seems very likely that the confession was scripted, given some of the awkward language and poor acting involved.
With US officials in talks with North Korea trying to secure the boy’s release, will Otto be allowed to leave the country and its labor camps before serving his time? What compelled the boy to steal something from one of the strictest, most xenophobic countries on the planet? As college students and even as Americans in a larger sense, we tend to forget that we cannot talk or buy our way out of all bad situations, and that the world is a very large place filled with people who are not always interested in working in our favor.
We hope the best for Otto and his family, but only time will tell if he is released early or will fade into the annals of history until his 15 years are up.