Article by Bryan Howard
July 24, 2018
It was leaked in a report from GQ, when Trump learned about 22-year-old America prisoner Otto Warmbier health condition he sent a plane to rescue him without North Korea’s permission.
Otto Warmbier was the young man who was arrested in North Korea for tearing down a Kim Jong Un poster. He was sentenced to 15 years in a hard labor camp, which is practically a death sentence.
June of 2017, Trump-appointed U.S. special representative for North Korea policy Joseph Yun learned that Warmbier was unconscious. “I was completely shocked,” said Yun of learning the news. “I came back immediately, and I told Secretary Tillerson … and we determined at the time that we needed to get him and the other prisoners out as soon as possible, and I should contact Pyongyang and say I wanted to come right away.”
“When Trump learned of Otto’s condition, he doubled down on the order for Yun to rush to Pyongyang and bring Otto home,” says the report. “The North Koreans were unilaterally informed that an American plane would soon land in Pyongyang and that United States diplomats and doctors would get off.”
According to an anonymous State Department official he said President Trump acted like a “dad” when he learned of the news.
“The president was very invested in bringing Otto home,” the official told GQ. “Listening to him deliberate on this, he sounded to me a lot more like a dad.”
But, of course, there was risk involved. “We were very scared,” said the official. As noted in the report, “though the North Koreans eventually said the plane would be able to land, no one knew what kind of welcome the Americans would receive on the ground.”
“The North Koreans said we could send a delegation to see Otto, but that we would have to discuss some of the conditions of getting him out once we got there,” explained Yun. The team was assembled to rescue Warmbier, and the official go-ahead from State was giving by Friday afternoon. When the team landed in Pyongyang, they were met with a “busload of soldiers.”
After Yun had hours of intense negotiations with the North Koreans he got to see Otto. Yun was appalled by the bad condition Otto was in to the point he wasn’t even sure if it was Otto.
Finally, they agreed to release Otto. “The Americans returned to the hospital, and a North Korean judge in a black suit commuted Otto’s sentence. Then the U.S. motorcade and the ambulance raced directly to the airport, through open security gates, and onto the tarmac where the Gulfstream waited. When the plane cleared North Korean airspace, the celebration was muted. The team knew they would soon have to face the heartbreak of turning Otto over to his parents.”
After the Parents were united with Otto his father had harsh words for Obama and praise for Trump.
“When Otto was first taken, we were advised by the past administration to take a low profile while they worked to obtain his release,” said Mr. Warmbier, per The Week. “We did so without result. Earlier this year, Cindy and I decided the time for strategic patience was over. … It is my understanding that [Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Y. Yun] and his team, at the direction of the president, aggressively pursued resolution of the situation.”
“I think the results speak for themselves,” he said when asked if the Obama Administration could have done more to save his son.