Fred and Cindy Warmbier, parents of the late University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, held a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday to detail their legal woes since the June 2017 death of their son and declare a global financial crusade against the North Korean government.
“There is no law in North Korea, but they have a presence in many countries and break the law in those countries,” Fred said on November 22, as reported by the Asia Times. “Our mission is to hold North Korea responsible and recover their assets around the world.”
This effort from the Warmbier family comes just two months after the US sold off the M/V Wise Honest - a North Korean bulk cargo carrier seized by the US after it violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, according to the Department of Justice.
Proceeds of the sale were designated to go to the Warmbier family to compensate them for the death of their son, who died shortly after being released from Pyongyang’s custody while still in a coma. While Pyongyang denies torturing Otto after his detainment for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster and instead cited botulism and an irregular reaction to a sleeping pill as the cause of his vegetative state, US President Donald Trump contended in a September 2017 tweet that Otto was “tortured beyond belief by North Korea.”
"Otto had a shaved head, he had a feeding tube coming out of his nose, he was staring blankly into space, jerking violently … He was blind. He was deaf,” Fred said in an interview with "Fox & Friends." He went on to label North Korean officials as “terrorists.”
According to the Navy Times, the brother and son of Reverend Kim Dong Shik, a South Korean pastor who was allegedly kidnapped, tortured and executed by Pyongyang’s agents back in 2000, are also expected to be compensated with a portion of the funds from the Wise Honest sale.
“If you force North Korea to engage from a legal standpoint, they will engage with us,” Fred said at the Friday press conference, stressing that they must be met in courts around the world. “Demands on governments don’t work – laws do.”
“They will not engage with us any other way,” he argued.
Recently, the Warmbier family has been pushing for judicial action against City Hostel Berlin, which operates on the grounds of the North Korean Embassy in Germany, in an effort to restrict the flow of money to Pyongyang.
“We cannot give up, we can’t give them a pass. We have to fight with all of our power,” Cindy said during the presser. She also explained that she hopes the Trump administration will be able to combat North Korea’s human rights violations through bilateral talks.