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Warmbiers to attend Seoul meeting of N. Korean abduction victims

Family of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who died in 2017 shortly after being released from prison in North Korea, is expected to visit Seoul next month for a meeting of international victims of abduction by the North. 

The Korean War Abductees’ Family Union said Wednesday the American victim’s parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, have accepted its invitation for the convention slated for Nov. 22.

In January 2016, Otto Warmbier was detained in Pyongyang for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda poster. He spent 17 months in prison before he was repatriated on June 13, 2017 in a vegetative state. He died six days later at age 22.

Otto Warmbier’s parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, attend the 2018 State of the Union address. (Reuters)
Otto Warmbier’s parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, attend the 2018 State of the Union address. (Reuters)

The Seoul-based union said some 100 family members of North Korean abduction victims from Japan, Thailand and South Korea will discuss the North’s cruel acts and come up with responses.

“North Korea has kidnapped about 100,000 civilians of varying nationalities during and after the Korean War,” the union said in a statement released Wednesday. “But the war crimes and cruelties went unpunished, an impunity which has led to reoccurrence of similar crimes by the North.”

Former human rights ambassadors of Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as officials from the US, Japanese and Thai embassies in South Korea will attend the event, the union said.

A joint resolution outlining measures to support victims of North Korean abduction and detainment will be declared at the convention.

In May 2018, Warmbier’s parents told a United Nations symposium in New York that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his regime were “responsible for the death of (their) son Otto.” They called on the world’s nations to “stand up to North Korea” to prevent a repetition.

Last year, a US court ordered Pyongyang to pay $501 million over Warmbier’s death, ruling that North Korea was responsible for the “extrajudicial killing.”

The Korean War Abductees’ Family Union was founded in November 2000 to raise awareness of the issue of abductees in North Korea and urge for their repatriation.

By Kim Arin (