Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

South Korea's Moon says North bears "heavy responsibility" for Warmbier death

FILE- In this June 15, 2017, file photo, Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, speaks during a news conference at Wyoming High School in Cincinnati. North Korean officials said he became comatose after he was given a sleeping pill following a botulism diagnosis.

Ex-Vietnam war POW Senator John McCain said in a statement that Warmbier "was murdered by the Kim Jong-Un regime", and added that the United States "cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers".

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that USA diplomats have already held discussions for more than a year with North Korea's top nuclear negotiator, focused on freeing American prisoners.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said North Korea should be held responsible for Warmbier's death, according to excerpts of a media interview released on Tuesday.

Lakshmi Sammaraco said the office "accepted the case" of Otto Warmbier, who died Monday in a Cincinnati hospital.

"I believe that first we must vie for a freeze of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, and then, as a second phase, try to achieve the complete dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program", said Moon. "It's worth a forceful response". A month earlier, North Korea released another USA citizen, Jeffrey Fowle, after detaining him for six months for leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the city of Chongjin. I pray that these innocent people suffering in North Korea are not forgotten in this high-stakes game of weapons, sanctions, and worldwide diplomacy.

It may never be known, but there are some clues — as well as widespread speculation.

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North Korean state media reported that he was arrested for committing "hostile acts" against the government. Both the US and South Korea - North's adversaries - have their citizens trapped in Pyongyang jails.

Mr Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour after he attempted to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel.

His death comes amid high tension over dozens of North Korean missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests, and has spurred renewed calls for action against the isolated country.

Yun learned about Warmbier's condition in a meeting a week before the release from the North Korean ambassador at the NY.

The U.S. State Department strongly warns Americans against traveling to North Korea, saying they're "at serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea's system of law enforcement".

Based in China, the touring company promises "adventure holidays"; trips like the one Warmbier took commonly include round-trip travel from Beijing, with several guides for groups of up to 24 tourists.

Moon said Tuesday he wished to convey his condolences to Warmbier's family and the American people, and that there can be many speculations "that there were many unjust and cruel treatments to Mr. Warmbier".

The North Korean mission to the United Nations was not available for comment on Monday.

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Or maybe North Korea concealed his medical condition for so long in the hopes that he'd recover.

It is believed that North Korea has been using the detentions as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with Washington.

At a public event last week, President Trump described North Korea as a "brutal regime". Pyongyang has also vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

"This is what South Korea should determine in consultation with the United States". "You've got to capitalize on this, and influence their internal debates to get them to recognize and acknowledge what happened". Announcing his death, the student's family accused the North Korean authorities of "tortuous mistreatment". Outside groups say North Korea tortures thousands of its own citizens at prison camps.

And when he was finally released from the wrath of Kim Jong-un, the student fell into a coma for the better part of a year. Medical experts in Warmbier's hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, said that the student was suffering serious brain damage.

"Maybe this will allow Trump and Moon to find some common ground on the North Korea issue", said Choi Kang, vice president at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

Mostly, the administration has focused on pressuring China, which provides most of North Korea's food and fuel imports.

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