Dad of North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier to be guest of US VP Mike Pence at South Korean Olympics

The move is intended to dramatise the human rights abuses of the Kim Jong-Un regime, an insider said

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2018, 12:50am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2018, 12:50am

The father of Otto Warmbier – the American student who died last year after being jailed in North Korea – will be US Vice-President Mike Pence’s special guest at the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies in South Korea this week, a Trump administration official said.

Pence invited Fred Warmbier to dramatise the human rights abuses of the Kim Jong-Un regime as he attends the ceremonies with a mission to counter North Korean propaganda at the games, said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

Pence leaves Monday for a five-day trip to Japan and South Korea, where he will lead the US delegation to the Olympics in Pyeongchang.

North Korea and South Korea plan to march together under a single flag during the programme, and Warmbier will sit with Pence and his wife during the ceremony.

During his state-of-the-nation speech last week, President Donald Trump invoked the Kim regime’s mistreatment of Otto Warmbier.

Warmbier was a University of Virginia student who was arrested and sentenced to hard labour in North Korea in 2016 after he allegedly tried to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel in the capital, Pyongyang.

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The student was in a coma when he was later released by North Korea, and died soon after he returned to the US

Officials said Otto Warmbier mysteriously suffered brain damage before he was returned to the US last year and died days later.

North Korea has denied mistreating Warmbier.

The Trump administration is staying in close contact with South Korea as the US ally engages in preliminary talks to ease tensions with Pyongyang.

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While North Korean officials will also be present at the Olympic ceremony, Pence will not meet with them, the official said.

Warmbier’s parents sat with the first lady at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last month.

This report includes copy from The Associated Press.