American student Otto Warmbier learned the hard way the dangers of entering a country that the State Department has advised against and warned could lead to long-term detention.
On Wednesday, the 21-year-old University of Virginia business major faced his worst nightmare when he was convicted of stealing a propaganda banner from the hotel where he was staying and was sentenced to 15 years hard labor in a North Korean prison.
Warmbier's arrest came in late January after he entered the country as a tourist on a New Year's trip.
Two weeks ago, Warmbier was paraded on state-run television offering a "confession" and apologizing for his alleged crime:
According to The Associated Press, the young man was charged with subversion and North Korean officials said he committed his "anti-state crime" with "the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation."
But Warmbier argued that he took the political poster to help secure money for his family who is "suffering from very severe financial difficulties." From the report:
Warmbier said he was offered a used car worth $10,000 by a member of the church. He said the church member told him the slogan would be hung on its wall as a trophy. He also said he was told that if he was detained and didn't return, $200,000 would be paid to his mother in the form of a charitable donation.
This is yet another example of North Korea continuing to threaten the U.S. not only by intimidating American citizens but also amping up the rhetoric surrounding the country's nuclear arsenal and boasting that it has the capabilities of reaching American soil with a miniature nuclear warhead strapped to a ballistic missile.