Otto Warmbier’s Parents Release Scathing Statement Responding to Trump’s Defense of Kim Jong Un

“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out.”


Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

The parents of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died after being imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp, have issued a scathing statement responding to President Donald Trump’s recent comments defending North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

The family’s statement, released Friday, specifically and unequivocally pushed back against Trump’s claim that he believed the leader had been unaware of Warmbier’s detainment.

“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier wrote. “Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”

The statement follows Trump’s shocking defense of Kim at the close of a failed nuclear summit between the two countries in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week, during which Trump told reporters that he believed the North Korean leader felt “badly” about what had happened to Warmbier. “I don’t believe he would have allowed that to happen,” Trump said during a press conference. “He tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.”

He continued, “Those prisons are rough, they’re rough places, and bad things happened. But I really don’t believe that he—I don’t believe that he knew about it.”

Warmbier died in 2017 after being returned to the United States in a coma.

We Recommend


Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.