- Leah Millis/Reuters
- President Donald Trump on Friday implied he was “misinterpreted” after facing criticism for believing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the subject of the US student Otto Warmbier’s death.
- Kim, in Hanoi, Vietnam, told Trump he didn’t know about the maltreatment of Warmbier during his detainment in North Korea.
- Warmbier was returned to the US after 17 months of captivity in North Korea, but he was in a vegetative state and died soon after.
- After Trump publicly took Kim’s “word” on Warmbier’s fate, the student’s parents slammed Trump in a statement and said the North Korean leader and his “evil regime” were responsible for their son’s death.
President Donald Trump on Friday reacted to criticism over him taking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s “word” that he didn’t know about the maltreatment of the US student Otto Warmbier while he was detained in the rogue state.
Warmbier was returned to the US after 17 months in captivity in North Korea, but he was in a vegetative state and died soon after.
In a tweet, Trump suggested he was “misinterpreted” when he said he believed Kim about Warmbier but did not specifically point to the North Korean leader as being responsible for Warmbier’s death.
“I never like being misinterpreted, but especially when it comes to Otto Warmbier and his great family. Remember, I got Otto out along with three others. The previous Administration did nothing, and he was taken on their watch. Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto’s mistreatment and death,” Trump said.
Trump added, “Most important, Otto Warmbier will not have died in vain. Otto and his family have become a tremendous symbol of strong passion and strength, which will last for many years into the future. I love Otto and think of him often!”
Earlier on Friday, Warmbier’s parents issued a statement that sharply rebuked Trump for taking Kim’s side on the issue of their son’s death.
“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto,” Fred and Cindy Warmbier said.
“Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that,” the Warmbiers added.
Trump met with Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week as part of ongoing talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
At a press conference following the collapse of the talks, which many experts have deemed a failure, Trump said he confronted Kim about Warmbier.
“I don’t believe that he would have allowed that to happen,” Trump said of the North Korean leader. “It just wasn’t to his advantage to allow that to happen. Those prisons are rough, they’re rough places and bad things happened.”
The president added, “He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.”