Otto Warmbier Update: North Korea Plays ‘Biggest Victim’ As It Denies Torture Claims

Kim Jong Un Visits Mangyongdae Revolutionary School. Photo by Prachatai/Flickr under Creative Commons

In its first remarks following the death of American student Otto Warmbier, North Korea called itself on Friday the ‘biggest victim’ in the tragedy and accused the United States of corroborating with South Korea in a “smear campaign.”

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released a statement from an unidentified foreign ministry official in Pyongyang on Friday, claiming that even though they “had no reason at all to show mercy to such a criminal of the enemy state,” they provided Warmbier, 22, “medical treatments and care with all sincerity on humanitarian basis until his return to the U.S.”

The spokesman said “groundless” speculation of torture and beatings could be refuted by American doctors who came to North Korea at the time of the late student’s repatriation and “recognized that his health indicators like pulse, temperature, respiration and the examination result of the heart and lung were all normal.” But as to why he died suddenly after his release reportedly remains a mystery to them as well. 

Warmbier died June 19, just days after he was returned to the U.S. in a coma. He was detained in North Korea since early 2016 on allegations of stealing a propaganda poster. According to Doctors, Warmbier had suffered extensive brain damage for reasons they can’t identify. He was laid to rest on Thursday, but no autopsy was performed, due to his family’s wishes.

Otto Warmbier Update

Otto Warmbier Update: The late student has been under North Korea’s custody since January 2, 2016. (Screenshot from YouTube/Stimmekoreas)


Pyongyang officials claimed he had contracted botulism and fell into a coma after being given a sleeping pill. 

The comment went on “To make it clear, we are the biggest victim of this incident and there would be no more foolish judgment than to think we do not know how to calculate gains and losses.” What the official called a “smear campaign” against them just pushes them to “further sharpen the blade of law.”

Warmbier’s death has ignited outrage in the U.S. toward Kim Jong Un’s regime, with President Donald Trump himself condemning the nation’s “brutality.” Three Americans remain in custody in the North. The State Department has since strongly discouraged travel to the hermit kingdom and is now already mulling a full travel ban.

Also Read: Why Was Otto Warmbier In North Korea & Why Is He In Jail

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About the author

A Mass Communication graduate, Necta has been writing news and other digital content for over 2 years now. She's a movie buff and a sucker for Korean dramas.