Moon Snubs Otto Warmbier's Parents

  • By Lee Min-seok

    November 15, 2019 11:33

    Cheong Wa Dae has refused a request from a civic group here for a meeting between President Moon Jae-in and the parents of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was murdered by the North Korean regime.

    Cheong Wa Dae claimed Moon is busy, but there are suspicions that he is trying to pacify the North Korean regime at all costs and does not want to be seen to sympathize with its victims.

    In a letter to Moon on Nov. 1, the Korean War Abductees' Family Union said, "Fred and Cindy Warmbier, the parents of Otto Warmbier who are arriving on Nov. 22, are eager to meet President Moon. They have many things to tell the president from the viewpoint of victims."

    Cindy (left) and Fred Warmbier /Reuters-Yonhap

    The Warmbiers are attending an event hosted by the group, which raises awareness of North Korea's abductions of South Korean citizens and other human rights issues.

    In a reply to the organization on Wednesday, Cheong Wa Dae wrote, "We fully understand how eager they are to meet the president, but it will be difficult for the president to meet them due to his busy schedule."

    Otto Warmbier, a junior at the University of Virginia, came to Pyongyang as a tourist in 2016. He was arrested for trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel, detained for 17 months, and finally returned to the U.S. in a comatose state apparently caused by torture from prison guards. He died five days later.

    "The organization wanted Moon to visit the event to meet families of abduction victims including the Warmbiers," a Cheong Wa Dae official said. "We turned the request down because it was impossible to find a time slot due to the upcoming Korea-ASEAN special summit in Busan" on Nov. 25-27.

    Opposition lawmakers denounced the decision, saying the presidential office could easily have arranged a meeting if it had a mind to do it.

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