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Warmbier mystery

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By John Burton

U.S. President Donald Trump got into hot water in late February when he was asked at a press conference following his unsuccessful summit with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi whether he had discussed the treatment of Otto Warmbier with the North Korean leader.

The case of Warmbier had become a cause celebre after the University of Virginia student had returned to the U.S. in June 2017 in a comatose state after being held in North Korea for 17 months for "hostile" actions against the state. He died days after his return. The widely accepted narrative in the U.S. was that Warmbier had fallen into a coma after he was tortured and mistreated in a North Korean jail.

"I did speak about it, but I don't believe [Kim Jong-un] would have allowed that to happen. It just wasn't to his advantage to allow that to happen," said Trump in response to the question. Kim "felt badly about it. He knew the case very well, but he knew it later."

Trump's remarks were taken as another example of how the president likes to cozy up to the autocratic leaders from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman. Nonetheless, Trump may have been close to the truth in speaking about Kim's role........

© The Korea Times