An American college student who has been held prisoner in North Korea for two months appeared at a press conference on Monday morning to offer a blubbering apology and to seek forgiveness from the government of the communist hellhole.
The University of Virginia student, Otto Frederick Warmbier, was detained on Jan. 2 as he boarded a plane at the Pyongyang airport.
Warmbier, 21, stands accused of a hostile act against the state involving the removal of some kind of political banner from the hotel where he was staying (to show to someone at a church in the United States). The North Korean government claims the U.S. government helped Warmbier with this alleged hostile act, according to Voice of America English News.
Dressed in an off-white blazer, a bright dress shirt with multi-color stripes and a green polka-dotted tie, Warmbier sat and spoke in a sad — yet very brightly lit — room inside the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang. Portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il hung above him.
At one point, Warmbier stood up and prayed.
“I understand the severity of my crime, and I have no idea what sort of penalty I may face, but I am begging to the Korean people and government for my forgiveness,” Warmbier said, fairly frantically. “And I am praying to the heavens so that I may be returned home to my family.”
Warmbier’s parents expressed relief at seeing their son alive.
“We had not heard from him during these many weeks, so you can imagine how deeply worried we were and what a traumatic experience this has been for us,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement, according to CNN. “He seems to be in good health, although we won’t know for sure about his condition until we have a chance to speak with him.”
It is not clear if Warmbier’s North Korean jailers forced him to speak, or if he chose to speak of his own volition.
North Korea has arrested Americans and citizens of other countries on false charges in the past, and forced those people to make bogus confessions which they later retract when they are eventually free of the DPRK’s totalitarian clutches.
The reason for these arrests in the past has sometimes been to possess bargaining chips for various negotiations.
Warmbier traveled to North Korea on a tour for college students and was with no church group, Voice of America notes.
The U.S. Department of State warns Americans in the strongest possible terms to avoid travel to North Korea. (RELATED: Naturally, Dennis Rodman Checks Into Alcohol Rehab After North Korea Disaster)
The United States maintains no diplomatic or consular relations whatsoever with the hermit, communist, failed nation with an estimated gross-domestic product per capita of $1,800.
Warmbier, a native of the suburbs of Cincinnati, is an economics major at the University of Virginia.