News / Asia

    Detained American in North Korea Makes 'Public Confession'

    American student Otto Warmbier, center, arrives at the People's Cultural House, as Warmbier is presented to reporters Monday, Feb. 29, 2016.
    American student Otto Warmbier, center, arrives at the People's Cultural House, as Warmbier is presented to reporters Monday, Feb. 29, 2016.
    VOA News

    An American college student detained in North Korea has publicly confessed to attempting to steal a political banner from a Pyongyang hotel.

    Otto Warmbier appeared before a group of domestic and foreign journalists Monday in the North Korean capital, accompanied by North Korean guards. The 21-year-old University of Virginia student, who was visiting North Korea with a tour group, was arrested last month before boarding a plane out of the country.  He has been charged with committing a hostile act against the state, with the help of the United States.

    WATCH: Detained American makes confession in North Korea

    Detained American in North Korea Makes 'Public Confession'i
    X
    February 29, 2016 1:22 PM
    American college student Otto Warmbier, detained in North Korea, publicly confessed to attempting to steal a political banner from a Pyongyang hotel.

    Warmbier told reporters he removed a political slogan from a staff-only area of the hotel where the group was staying to give to a member of his church who wanted the banner to display as a "trophy."  He said the church member offered him a used car worth $10,000. If he was caught and unable to return, the church member said Warmbier's mother would get $200,000.  

    Pyongyang has not said what possible punishment Warmbier may face.

    American student Otto Warmbier, right, bows as Warmbier is presented to the reporters, Feb. 29, 2016.
    American student Otto Warmbier, right, bows as Warmbier is presented to the reporters, Feb. 29, 2016.

    A State Department spokesman later Monday said that as a general practice, North Korea arrests and imprisons people for actions that would not give rise to arrests, let alone imprisonment, in the United States. He added there's little doubt that North Korea uses detention as a tool for propaganda purposes.

    North Korea has often detained Americans and other foreign citizens on trumped up charges. The detainees are usually brought before foreign journalists to read statements confessing to crimes committed against the dictatorial regime.  The statements are widely considered to have been coerced, and detainees often recant their confessions after their release.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Deborah (USA)
    March 13, 2016 10:57 PM
    He did it on a dare and was promised money. It was an incredibly stupid action, knowing the government of North Korea. I hope he is released soon and it be a lesson to international travelers to respect the laws of the country they visit.
    In Response

    by: j70141
    March 16, 2016 2:06 PM
    I don't hope for any such thing. I hope they detain him for the full 15 years. As an added bonus, we need to send over the person that wanted to put the banner in the church too. I hope they detain as many stupid people as they can, we have too many here.

    by: kanaikaal irumporai
    February 29, 2016 3:33 PM
    The fact that this guy and others like dare to go to NK is itself suspicious. Unless there's some sort of incentives offered from the US govt. they are no fools to take such risks. So, all in all, this and others like it, are nothing other than an attempt by the US intelligence apparaus to do harm to NK. similar to what they tried on Fidel Castro. This guy should not be released untill Mr. Obama kneels down and begs for his pardon.

    by: Sirantha
    February 29, 2016 1:22 PM
    I also think this's not a big deal, Korean should be forgiven to him.

    by: william li from: canada
    February 29, 2016 12:46 PM
    I dont believe its an engineered confession since stealing a banner is not a big deal in US. There is highly a chance that this little american did do this stupid thing. He was just being ignorant. Tourists should be taught to respect the local laws and cultures to avoid similar troubles.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora