The parents of Otto Warmbier have opened up about the bittersweet moment when the family was reunited with their 22-year-old son after he was returned home from a North Korean prison only to experience the physical and mental toll the torture and imprisonment had taken on him.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier appeared on Fox and Friends Tuesday, where they recalled how they boarded the plane that carried Otto back to the United States and were met with “howling, this involuntary, inhuman sound” that caused his mother and sister to flee in terror.
“Otto had a shaved head, he had a feeding tube coming out of his nose, he was staring blankly into space, jerking violently,” Fred said. “He was blind. He was deaf. As we looked at him and tried to comfort him, it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.”
Otto was traveling in China in late 2015 when he came across a company that offered trips to North Korea. He embarked on a five-day New Year’s tour alongside ten other Americans and partook in a raucous New Year’s Eve celebration, but when he allegedly tried to steal a propaganda poster from the hotel, he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
By the time Otto was released in June, he was gravely ill. Doctors diagnosed him with extensive loss of brain tissue associated with oxygen deprivation to the brain, but they were unable to figure out the cause. Otto died on June 19 after his fever spiked to 104 degrees.
“To see how he came home was almost too much for us,” Cindy said. “I almost passed out, but I got together and I rode in the ambulance with him because I did not want him to be alone anymore.”
While the Warmbiers hoped to stay out of the public eye after their son’s death, Fred and Cindy came forward to make sure the world does not forget the atrocities that the Kim Jong Un regime has committed against innocent civilians.
“We’re here to tell you North Korea is not a victim, they’re terrorists,” Fred said. “They kidnapped Otto, they tortured him, they intentionally injured him.”
President Trump signaled support for Fred and Cindy Warmbier on Twitter.
“Great interview on Fox and Friends with the parents of Otto Warmbier: 1994-2017,” he wrote Tuesday. “Otto was tortured beyond belief by North Korea.”