Friday, June 23, 2017

ABC 20-20: "What Happened to Otto?": We don't know, as there is no proof he did anything; tensions with North Korea at all time high

ABC 20-20 on Friday June 23 aired “What Happened to Otto”, a documentary with Bob Wodruff examining the life and death of Otto Warmbier, after he was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016 and, according to the best evidence, experienced some sort of suffocation shortly after imprisonment and lapsed into a coma.  The best link seems to be this.

Warmbier had toured the world after reaching his junior year at the University of Virginia.  While in China, he learned about a group Pioneer Tours that does guided tours to North Korea.

To its credit, it must be said that the tours are structured and pass through various places quickly. Pyongyang is made to look modern and inviting and tourists are put into a particular high-rise on an island.  The company will no longer accept tourists from the U.S. because of the tense political situation.

The fifth floor is blocked off, and is where the DPRK maintains surveillance on guests.  News people had gotten photos of the secret floor (rather out of “Being John Malkovich”). The North Koreans had a grainy photo of a somewhat tall person who had snuck down to the floor non stairs and removed a poster. But it is not possible to prove that the person is Warmbier, and it is possible that Warmbier’s tearful confession as coerced, according to ABC's broadcast.

Nevertheless some people have written that Warmbier was arrogant in believing he could flout the values of another culture, however authoritarian, and however venial is act.  But we aren’t sure he did anything.

The Trump administration did put more pressure on North Korea to release Warmbier than had Obama’s.  Does the death of ab American (three more right now are in prison) increase the tension between the US and North Korea?  The US has to consider the grisly possibility of a conventional or possibly WMD attack on South Korea in retaliation.  (That might include an EMP strike.)  The US can put more pressure on China and companies in China that do business with North Korea.

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