Remember this? March 2016 and a North Korean ‘court’ sentences an American student to 15 years of hard labor after accusing him of removing a political banner from his hotel.
Doesn’t really sound like a punishment suited to such a “crime” does it? The trial reportedly lasted only ONE HOUR with the U.S State Department calling the sentence against University of Virginia student, Otto Frederick Warmbier as “unduly harsh”. The State Department going on to call for his release urging North Korea to “pardon him and to grant him special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds”.
During the trail, the 21-year-old student pleaded for mercy “I beg that you see that I am only human, how I have made the worst mistake of my life” he said during an emotional speech to the court.
Sadly this was not enough and nearly 1 year later, Warmbier is lost somewhere within North Korea subjected to a life of ‘hard labor’ – we can only imagine the horrors this entails.
Of course, Warmbier isn’t the only U.S citizen to find themselves locked up in a North Korea judicial system – Kenneth Bae, also received 15 years in mid 2013.
But what exactly is it like to do hard labor in North Korea? Based on testimonies of former captives, “it ranges from slight discomfort to nightmarish torture”. Forced to eat a diet of mostly corn and salt, prisoners lose their teeth, their gums turn black, their bones weaken and, as they age, they hunch over. We imagine it is similar to the fates suffered by those in Nazi concentration camps – forced to work 12 to 15 days and dying of malnutrition-related illnesses.
Doesn’t this make you sick? Why has the response from the Obama government been so weak? Where are the ‘balls’ in this administration?
You might remember a few years back, two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna lee slipped across the North Korean border from China and were sentenced to 12 years hard labour for committing “hostile acts”.
Lucky for Ling, her sister Lisa Ling was a U.S journalist, and her employer, Current TV, was partially owned by former Vice President Al Gore.
Gore was able to get Bill Clinton to fly to North Korea and free them..
What do you make of that? Should Obama take a stand for U.S citizens who we know are being tortured abroad? Especially for one sentenced for something that would not even involve security in our country?!