Weirdly mixed feelings about Otto Warmbier (American student sentenced to 15 years in N Korea)

He’s the guy who decided to go to North Korea for vacation and then tried to swipe one of their propaganda banners. For which, he’s just been sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

On one hand:
The punishment is totally ludicrous. Insane. It was a single banner. It’s theft, but we’re talking a banner that, at absolute most (and I’m picking an absurdly high number) $100/USD.

It’s possible he didn’t do it. North Korea is just fine with coercing prisoners to make false confessions and has done so in the past.

There’s zero chance that he got anything resembling a fair trial.

On the other hand:
What kind of moron chooses to go to North Korea for vacation anyway? Seriously…if you go, you’re kind of inviting that kind of trouble. And yes, I’m quite aware I’m blaming the victim. There’s a point where the victim is so obviously stupid that the victim deserves some of the blame. If you decide to go into a building that’s on fire so you can take a selfie, I’m not gonna be surprised or all that sympathetic when you get burned.

It’s morally reprehensible to give tourist dollars to an evil, totalitarian regime like North Korea’s. So, minus sympathy points for that too.

On neither hand:
He’s 21–he’s a grown up, not a child. I’ve seen articles implying he’s a kid.

His (possibly forced) confession said that his family was suffering from hard times and he’d been offered a $20000 bounty for it by a church group(??? Wha?). So? It’s a dumbass risk if true. Some articles are implying this is a mitigating factor.

My sympathy ultimately is with the guy, but there’s a kernel of annoyance at the fact that he was dumbass enough to choose to go.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

All in all? Baring More evidence?

Yeah. I mostly with yah.

Kinda like you get drunk off your ass and crazy and you start waving a gun around. Not saying you DESERVE to be shot dead by the cops…but if you DO it pretty is much is your fault…

List of possible vacation spots this year:

South of France
Cinque Terre
New Zealand
North Korea

One of these things is not like the others…

I think he’s an idiot. Just to get that out of the way.

The sentence is absurd.

My guess - North Korea wants something from us and this dumb schmuck will be used as leverage.

Calm down, just as they like to make a good show of making the convicted go on tv and denounce their American capitalist overlords, the 15 yrs hard labour is also likely about show.

History indicates the Westerners that are ‘made example of’ and get harsh sentences are often quietly released a couple of years later. Which is no walk in park I’m sure, but it’s not 15 yrs at least!

Ultimately any guy looking for Christian converts in North Korea must know he’s dancing with the Devil, right from the start, I should think.

Yellowstone. It’s a National Park.

There are many Parks in the Nation of North Korea.

So you’re saying I should re-think my plans to do a solo hike in Eastern Syria?

NYC is the only city.

No, take 2 friends and hike in Northeastern Iraq. There are some cool trails right near the border with Iran.

The vacation was not a great choice. The theft, if in fact he did it, was beyond stupid. I’m reminded of Grizzley Man. You got eaten by bears, and that sucks big time. But you should not have been there in the first place.

Don’t forget to bring your personal drone along for some awesome selfies. The locals love those things I hear.

On a related note, what do you think about guys who are being arrested for minor crimes and decide to resist and tangle with the cops instead and end up getting shot? Unmitigated tragedy, or “so obviously stupid that the victim deserves some of the blame”?

I wonder how much it costs for an American kid to go on holiday to North Korea? And why some random church would even want some easily reproduced propaganda poster? And why they would pay $20000 for it? And why am I even bothering to question such an obviously silly and probably made up excuse?

There’s plenty of missionary churches that see spreading the Gospel in North Korea as the next big crusade. I can easily imagine them wanting to get their hands on one of Kim’s banners so they can show it off as an example of how godless and heathen the regime is.

Wait, wait, I have a list of…friends…that will want to accompany you! Let me talk them…let me get a list for you!

Well, yeah, by our standards it’s crazy out of proportion but you have to consider that

  1. North Koreans treat their propaganda like a Fundamentalist Christian treats the Bible

  2. In North Korea, people get sentenced to life at hard labor for merely being the relative of certain types of criminal.

They probably think he’s getting off easy.

North Korea is run by a mad man and it is populated by malnourished, brainwashed sheeple.

We hold American police officers to a much higher standard.

If you think this sort of thing deserves a thread, go open one.

Do not attempt to hijack this thread.

[ /Moderating ]

There are south Korean companies that offer tours of the North. I don’t know how common they are, but they exist. There is an appeal to going to NK just to see how fucked up it is.