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Funeral Held for Former North Korean Prisoner Otto Warmbier

  • VOA News

The casket of Otto Warmbier is carried from Wyoming High School after his funeral, June 22, 2017.

An estimated 2,500 mourners gathered Thursday to remember Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died this week after being held for nearly a year-and-a-half in a North Korean prison.

In Warmbier's home state of Ohio, the mourners - among them friends and family - attended his funeral at his former high school. Warmbier was to be buried at a Cincinnati cemetery.

Warmbier was sentenced to hard labor in North Korea after being convicted of attempting to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel in Pyongyang.

The 22-year-old was medically evacuated to the United States last week with severe brain damage.

Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, blames the North Korean regime for the death of Otto Warmbier, who was held captive in North Korea for more than a year and died after returning home in a coma last week. (Photo: Ham Jiha / VOA Korean Service)
Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, blames the North Korean regime for the death of Otto Warmbier, who was held captive in North Korea for more than a year and died after returning home in a coma last week. (Photo: Ham Jiha / VOA Korean Service)

Ohio Senator Rob Portman spoke at the funeral, calling Warmbier “an amazing young man” and saying Warmbier should not have been detained.

"This process has been a window into both evil, and love and good. Today we're seeing the good, and the love that will be expressed through this outpouring of support for Otto and his family," Portman said.

At Thursday’s funeral of an University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who died just days after returning from North Korea, where he was detained nearly a year and a half, Paul and Britta Schwartz from Wyoming, Ohio, send condolences to the Warmbiers.(Photo: Ham Jiha / VOA Korean Service)
At Thursday’s funeral of an University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who died just days after returning from North Korea, where he was detained nearly a year and a half, Paul and Britta Schwartz from Wyoming, Ohio, send condolences to the Warmbiers.(Photo: Ham Jiha / VOA Korean Service)

President Donald Trump said he was running out of patience with the North Korean regime. He called Warmbier's treatment a "total disgrace" and described the North Korean government as a brutal regime that doesn't "respect the rule of law or basic human decency."

A piece of legislation meant to curb American travel into North Korea got a boost in Congress on Thursday when House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican, agreed to move the bill through his committee.

The bill, introduced late last month by Representatives Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, and Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, would ban tourist travel to North Korea and require a license from the Treasury Department for any other travel to North Korea.

"The tragic murder of Otto Warmbier at the hands of the North Korean government has made it clear that it is past time that we restrict tourist travel to communist, totalitarian North Korea," Wilson said. "I am grateful that Chairman Ed Royce has committed to marking up this important legislation soon, and look forward to having it debated in the House Foreign Affairs Committee."

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