Vice President Mike Pence is quietly being a total bada** at the Olympic Games, from skipping a dinner with North Korea’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam to bringing as his official guest Fred Warmbier, father of Ohio-born Otto Warmbier who was detained and ultimately murdered by the North Korean regime.
Pence was reportedly seated in very close proximity to the sister of Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo-jong, at the Olympic opening ceremony in Pyeongchang; he had earlier chosen not to shake the hand of Kim Yong-nam at a reception given by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Pence’s official guest for the Olympics, which opened Friday morning, is Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier. Otto, who spent 5 days in North Korea in 2016 before being detained as he was boarding a plane to leave, was tortured by the regime and ultimately died from his injures.
If you don’t remember exactly how and why Otto Warmbier got arrested in North Korea, we’ll take you back to the start of this whole ordeal. The 21-year-old student from Wyoming, Ohio was detained as he was about to board a plane to leave North Korea on January 2, 2016. He was finishing up a five-day trip to the country set up by a China-based travel company.
Why was he arrested? The reason wasn’t immediately clear. North Korea reportedly claimed that Warmbier wanted to “destroy the country’s unity” through an act “tolerated and manipulated by the U.S. government.” The government did not explicitly state what that act was.
But later, in a press conference, Warmbier admitted that he attempted to steal a banner with a political slogan from his hotel in Pyongyang. He said that a church member from his hometown allegedly offered him a used car worth $10,000 in exchange for it, according to The New York Times. It also appeared that Warmbier was forced to say that the American government put him up to this so-called crime in the extremely emotional press conference.
Warmbier, after being left in North Korea by the Obama administration, was eventually returned home by the Trump administration in a state of unresponsive wakefulness, “meaning that he was unable to speak, hear, or see due to a brain injury he suffered while he was detained. The injuries ultimately took his life and Warmbier passed away on June 19, 2017.”
Pence and the elder Warmbier met with survivors of the North Korean regime as part of their official business Friday.
Karen & I were honored to meet w/ victims of the oppressive North Korean regime. We heard the harrowing stories of defectors who risked life & limb for freedom, & from Fred Warmbier, father of the late Otto Warmbier. We admire their resilience. #VPinASIA pic.twitter.com/90kUlGSXG7
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 9, 2018
Warmbier also met North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho, who was a special guest at the SOTU and made a lasting impression by holding up the crutches he used following his torture at the hands of the North Korean regime.
Touching & heartbreaking moment as Ji Seong-ho, who fled the N. Korean regime, embraces Fred Warmbier, who lost his son at its hands. The world can’t forget the atrocities committed by the N Korean regime pic.twitter.com/ucWwzdN6EY
— Devin O’Malley (@VPPressSec) February 9, 2018
A North Korean military parade, originally scheduled for April, was moved up ahead of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games.