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UVA Student Otto Warmbier Sentenced To 15 Years Of Hard Labor In North Korea

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Otto Warmbier, the 21-year-old fuchsia pant-wearing UVA student and member of the Theta Chi fraternity who was mysteriously detained by North Korean officials in January, and who later confessed — possibly coerced — to stealing a politically propagandic poster from his hotel has now been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea.

That’s 15 YEARS imprisonment and “hard labor” inside the most backwards nation on the planet for allegedly stealing a banner from a hotel. A BANNER.

From The New York Times:

An American student who tearfully apologized for trying to steal a political propaganda poster in his hotel in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for subversion on Wednesday, news agencies reported.

The student, Otto F. Warmbier, 21, a University of Virginia undergraduate from Cincinnati, was convicted after a one-hour trial Wednesday morning at the country’s Supreme Court, according to The Associated Press, which has a bureau in Pyongyang.

Don’t try to wrap your head around the North Korean justice system because this story really is as ridiculous as it sounds. A trivial “crime” that gets you a stern talking-to by a guy in a cheap blazer and walkie-talkie in hand here in the U.S. gets you 15 years in shackles in North Korea. Just a really sad outcome and display of inhumanity.

I’m not too adept at the ins and out of international diplomacy so I don’t know what approach the United States government can and will take here, but we’re not just going to let Kim Jong-un and his goons pluck one of our college students out of line at the Pyongyang airport and imprison him for 15 years for taking a two-dollar poster from a hotel, are we?

And his gut-wrenching plea for forgiveness:

[via The New York Times]

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Dillon Cheverere

Dillon Cheverere (@DCheverere) is the Vice President of Media for Grandex, Inc. Email:

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