Ad Choices, The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage. After all, the stories we tell ourselves and others shape our own fates, and those of nations, the world, and other people's children. It's the one the Trump administration and his family (Otto's) wanted/needed. His name was Otto Warmbier. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-ready videos to electric live events, GQ meets millions of modern men where they live, creating the moments that create conversations. The tour company that took Otto Warmbier no longer allows Americans", "Otto Warmbier's father denounces North Korea as his son is treated for a 'severe neurological injury, "In Return From North Korea, Otto Warmbier Is 'Brutalized and Terrorized' in North Korea", "Odds of N. Korea Releasing US Student May Lie in Past Cases", "What we can learn from the harshest responses to Otto Warmbier's captivity", "Professor fired after saying Otto Warmbier was a 'clueless white male' who 'got what he deserved, "How a teen magazine botched a North Korea tweet and set the internet ablaze", "That North Korea Vacation? That day, Yun engaged in several rounds of intense negotiations with North Korean officials, trying to win Otto's freedom. But Bergman was told he wouldn't even get to see Otto. And when one takes into account that the entire sourced public case that Otto was beaten derives from that single anonymous official who spoke to The New York Times, the theory begins to crack. She forced herself to join him in the emergency vehicle, though seeing him in such torment had almost made her pass out. But Gratton and the other tourists, a mix of Canadians, Australians, Europeans, and at least one other American, helped Otto laugh off that dark knowledge, nicknaming him âImperial Enemyââas in, âHey, Imperial Enemy, want another beer?â Soon enough Otto was having fun again, for even though propaganda billboards showed North Korean missiles blasting the White House, the tour felt more like a bizarre charade than a visit to a hostile nation. When asked about his son's health, he said grimly, âWe're trying to make him comfortable.â Sometimes he slipped into the past tense when talking about him. ITAR-TASS News Agency / Alamy Stock Photo, a classmate later wrote in a local newspaper. He took as his theme a quote from The Office: âI wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days,â he told his peers, âbefore you've actually left them.â. DocFilm The untold story of Otto Warmbier. His causing … Fred Warmbier came face-to-face with those responsible for Otto's death at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. South Korean intelligence, generally considered the spy agency with the best sources in North Korea, found no confirmation that Otto was beaten. He argued that given the young man's health, Pyongyang had to free him promptly on humanitarian grounds. Even if North Korea didn't beat Otto, that doesn't mean that he wasn't tortured, as the mental suffering the regime inflicted on him constitutes torture under the U.N. definition. Another senior government official told me, âI can tell you that I've been in a lot of classified meetings about Otto, before and after his return. In Manhattan, the North Koreans informed Yun that Otto was unconscious. The research organization Database Center for North Korean Human Rights confirmed a case of a factory janitor being prosecuted for bumping such a picture off the wall so that it fell and broke. The previously unreported detail of when Otto was admitted to the Friendship Hospital changes the narrative of what could have happened to him. When Trump won, Bergman and Richardson recognized a golden opportunity to free Otto Ã la the release of American hostages in Iran at the beginning of Ronald Reagan's inaugural presidential term. Austin (Otto’s youngster brother) and I walked over to Otto,” Mr Warmbier said. Otto became a symbol used to build âa case for war on emotional grounds,â the New York Times editorial board wrote. Robert Park reportedly tried to take his own life on returning. âThey were not decision makers at all.â, Otto signed a document with a thumbprint during his appearance at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang in March 2016.*. Both sides of Otto's brain had suffered simultaneously, meaning it had been starved of oxygen. âOtto Warmbier is a very special person,â Trump answered. At least five previous American detainees have been imprisoned in a two-story building with a green-tiled roof in a gated alleyway behind a restaurant in downtown Pyongyang, which is run by the State Security Department, the North Korean secret police. When he won a finance internship the fall of his junior year, there was no disputing that he was a man fully in charge of his destiny. But here in this office, we depend on science for our conclusions.â Three other individuals who had close contact with Otto on his return also did not notice any physical signs consistent with torture. The final go-ahead from the State Department arrived during an inconspicuous Friday lunch. It was only when Otto was on the way to board his plane back to America that he was arrested for this crime. Portman answered that Otto appeared to have severe brain damage. Otto's control of his carefully planned life had just been wrenched from him. In a private meeting, Trump showed Kim a Hollywood-trailer-like video that laid out the choice between economic prosperity, if he gave up his nukes, or war. Finding the bona fide truth about what happened to Otto Warmbier would probably require nothing short of the collapse of the North Korean regime, said Marcus Noland, a … How did his brain damage occur? But before he became a rallying cry in the administration's campaign against North Korea, he was just a kid. At the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, the family camped at Otto's bedside while speculation blazed around the world about what had rendered him vegetative. âI don't believe Otto was physically tortured,â Andrei Lankov said in his office in Seoul. After the bar, Gratton says, they celebrated the final hours of New Year's Eve with thousands of North Koreans in Pyongyang's main square. His formerly straight teeth were misaligned, and a large scar marred his foot. The administration was informed of the correct time line, and it was well known among government officials who worked on the case. In an isolated second-floor ICU room, Flueckiger was presented with a pale, inert man with a feeding tube threaded through his nostrils. He joined a fraternity known for its âkind of nerdy dudes,â and one of his college friends said that academics and family always took precedence over everything else, from partying to tailgating at football games. âListening to him deliberate on this, he sounded to me a lot more like a dad.â But, the official said, âwe were very scared,â for though the North Koreans eventually said the plane would be able to land, no one knew what kind of welcome the Americans would receive on the ground. After a mourning period, Fred and Cindy appeared on Fox & Friends in September 2017, once more reportedly seeking to catch the president's eye, and called the North Koreans âterroristsâ who had âintentionally injuredâ Otto. Officials in North Korea say Warmbier took a poster down from a staff-only floor of the hotel he was staying in. Fred graphically described damage to Otto's teeth and foot as the result of torture and demanded that the administration punish the dictatorship. Hundreds of people lined the streets to witness Otto's hearse, and many made the W hand gesture representing his high school. To get real answers, someone would have to go to Pyongyang. âListening to [Trump] deliberate on this,â said a State Department official, âhe sounded to me a lot more like a dad.â. On TV and social media, and in official speeches, Republican officials cited Otto's death as a reason Kim Jong-un needed to be confronted. Fred Warmbier said on CNN that his son's mouth "looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth." Other signs of physical trauma were also lacking. The likelihood of conflict grew so real that an American diplomat warned a Seoul-dwelling friend in confidence to move his assets out of South Korea. âWe tried to go through Giuliani, Pence, Ivanka. To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. He traveled to Washington more than a dozen times in 2016 to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry and other high-level politicians. While they toured the ship, the Young Pioneers were regaled by a North Korean who told the foreign visitors about capturing the ship from the âimperial enemy.â The 82 American sailors captured on the Pueblo were beaten and starved for 11 months before finally being released. When Otto finally opened his eyes again, he likely found himself at a guesthouse, which is where the State Department believed he was probably kept. Shortly after Otto was arrested, Ohio governor John Kasich connected the Warmbiers with Bill Richardson, the affable former governor of New Mexico and ambassador to the United Nations, who was leading a foundation that specializes in under-the-radar âfringe diplomacyâ to release hostages from hostile regimes or criminal organizations. A congressional staffer familiar with the intelligence reports said, âBefore we had Otto back in the United States, we just didn't know what was going on there. Mrs Warmbier added that the scar, which covered Otto's 'entire foot' and was likely the result of him living with an 'open wound' for many months. Otto Warmbier’s death grabbed headlines in June 2017. The likelihood that his brain damage happened immediately after the sentencing, however, raises the possibility that he may have attempted suicide. GQ may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. The lack of physical evidence of beatings was widely publicized. However, Yun kept butting his head against the North Koreans' argument: Otto committed this crime, so why should he escape due process? Still, Cindy knew her son was not through danger yet. Meanwhile, the American military made preparations for a possible conflict. By the time Bergman sat down with a vice minister on his last day, he was expecting a positive outcome because of the excitement of his minders. In Pyongyang, rather, Bergman was squired around for four days to many of the same sites that Otto had touristedâfrom the U.S.S. First, Otto would be forced to confess to undermining the regime, and tapes of that speech would be used as domestic propaganda to convince North Koreans that America sought to destroy them. The Warmbiers were optimistic, up-by-their-bootstraps patriots, and they hoped that with American health care and their love, their son might again become the vivacious person he'd been when he left. From that point on, the White House no longer focused on Otto's tragedy. In the end, however, despite all the mystery still surrounding Otto, it is essential to remember two facts that endure as unyielding as gravestones: Otto's death and the grief of those he left behind. Then the U.S. motorcade and the ambulance raced directly to the airport, through open security gates, and onto the tarmac where the Gulfstream waited. North Korea would later release grainy CCTV camera footage of an unidentifiable figure removing a framed propaganda poster from a wall in a restricted area of the hotel, claiming it was Otto. He was one of those special young people we praise as all-American. Someone heard third- or fourth-hand that Otto was sick, and that person decided he was beaten. On hearing the offer, and before consulting any of his advisers, the president accepted. Shortly before the plane was to land, a North Korean official announced to Yun that they had decided to release Otto. In September, Bergman achieved what he described as the first face-to-face meeting between American and North Korean representatives in Pyongyang in nearly two years. But a North Korean ambassador soon contacted Richardson to explain that he had not meant to lead him astray in negotiations and that he too had been kept in the dark. Many experts pointed out that though North Korea is often portrayed as irrational, the Kim family had to be âboth brutal and smart,â as Lankov said, to maintain its relative power on the world stage, especially for such a small, impoverished country. In the past, North Korea has spun false confessions from small truths, and in this case they may have construed a conspiracy from a souvenir propaganda poster that Otto had bought, according to Danny Gratton, Otto's tour roommate. Finally, a voice speaking perfect English guided the plane's landing in Pyongyang. His only break from the interrogations was likely watching North Korean propaganda films. 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