Parents Find Son Painfully Out of Reach in North Korea

They have yet to speak with Otto Warmbier
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2016 6:28 AM CST
Parents Find Son Painfully Out of Reach in North Korea
American student Otto Warmbier speaks during a press conference on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

Monday brought the sobbing televised confession of American college student Otto Warmbier; it also brought the release of the first public statement from his parents, who implored the North Korea government to free their son. The New York Times reads between the lines: "The careful wording suggested that all diplomatic efforts undertaken so far to establish contact between Mr. Warmbier and his parents had failed." The statement from Fred and Cindy Warmbier did establish that the two have not been able to speak with the 21-year-old University of Virginia student during these last two months, and references the efforts of the US State Department and Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang.

It reads in part: "My wife, Cindy, and I were greatly relieved to finally see a picture of our son, Otto, who was taken into custody by DPRK authorities in Pyongyang on January 2nd. We had not heard from him during these many weeks, so you can imagine how deeply worried we were and what a traumatic experience this has been for us." Warmbier, per his confession, stole a political banner from a part of Pyongyang's Yanggakdo International Hotel accessible only to staff. He claimed to have done it on the urging of groups as varied as the CIA and an Ohio church. The Times notes that while it's not possible to determine whether the words were forced upon him, the "unlikely nature of the details" suggests that's the case. (More North Korea stories.)

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