Upon hearing of Otto Warmbier’s passing, I immediately placed blame on Barack Obama. Although I believe he could/should have done something for Otto, I want to offer another perspective that may not be so popular.
In January 2016, Warmbier was detained at Pyongyang Intl. Airport and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from a hotel in North Korea. Obama failed to get this American home during his last year in office.
Being from Southern California, it is known that traveling south of the border is risky for Americans. The Mexican Federales are known to hassle tourists, pulling them over for bogus infractions and shaking them down in order to avoid a ticket or being arrested. Before we needed passports to enter Tijuana, I’d walk across the border and come back with no problems. I understand that driving into Mexico would pose a personal or financial risk, so I have decided to never do it.
Back to Otto. One would think Warmbier would have learned about North Korea through his parents, school, media or at the least through Hollywood films like Team America, Olympus Has Fallen, or The Interview just to name a few.
Although he was just 21 when taken into custody by the North Korean regime, he should have been aware of the risk associated with Westerners traveling to a region ran by a murderous dictator. The actions of the North Korean regime were extreme, considering the alleged offense. Otto Warmbier should have known better. Like others who have successfully traveled in and out of North Korea, the University of Virginia student made the decision on his own to enter the regime and ultimately paid the price for the “adventure.” Americans and global citizens alike have no business risking their lives or contributing to the North Korean economy. Young Pioneers Tours, based in China, is also to blame for marketing North Korea to Warmbier and other Westerners.
Going to North Korea is not an adventure. It is a risk, not matter how you cut it. If you want adventure, go skydiving, or travel to a country that is not run by a volatile leader who uses violence and murder to discipline his own family, leadership, and Americans.
My thoughts and prayers are with Warmbier’s family and friends. My prayers are also with our government as they weigh the political consequences of an American’s death at the hands of this violent, unpredictable regime.
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_North_Korea