The father of an American student who was imprisoned in North Korea and later died upon his return to the United States will attend the 2018 Olympics Opening Ceremonies alongside Vice President Mike Pence.
Fred Warmbier — the father of the late Otto Warmbier — will travel to Pyeongchang, South Korea as a guest of the vice president, who is leading America’s Winter Olympic delegation, according to The Washington Post.
Pence’s stop in South Korea is part of a five-day trip to Asia. The vice president is also planning to visit Japan.
White House officials have indicated that Pence will focus on furthering U.S. pressure on the North Korean government.
Pence is expected to fight against the regime’s propaganda efforts and “reiterate President Trump’s stance that all options are on the table until North Korea halts its nuclear ambitions,” according to The Post.
As for Warmbier — he and his wife Cindy both attended President Donald Trump’s first ever State of the Union address last week as guests of first lady Melania Trump.
The president issued a tribute to their late son — lauded as one of the most emotional events of his entire speech — while also taking the time to criticize the North Korean government.
“You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires truly us all,” Trump said during his address, speaking directly to the Warmbiers.
“Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with total American resolve,” he added.
Fred Warmbier told The Post that although Trump’s address had been “very emotional,” it “felt good” for his son to be honored.
Otto Warmbier was 21 year old and a student at the University of Virginia when he traveled to North Korea in 2016. At the time, he was about to study abroad in Hong Kong.
But the student stopped in Beijing and joined a New Year’s Eve tour to North Korea.
Early on New Year’s morning, Warmbier is said to have been on a staff-only floor of the Pyongyang hotel he was staying at, where he reportedly proceeded to take down a propaganda sign in support of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
When Warmbier went to leave the country, he was arrested and charged with “hostile acts against the state,” The Post reported.
After what the newspaper called a “sham trial,” the young student was sentenced to 15 years hard labor.
Not long after, Warmbier apparently lost consciousness for unexplained reasons, though North Korean authorities blamed an allergic reaction to food he had eaten.
WArmbier was in a coma for 15 months before the regime released information about his condition.
He was eventually medically evacuated from Pyongyang and transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was found to have suffered severe brain damage, according to The Post.
He died days after returning to the United States, although the cause of death remains unknown.
“The era of strategic patience for the Warmbier family is over,” Fred Warmbier said last year, referring to the Obama-era policy of waiting for North Korea to decide when it wanted to negotiate over the issue of its nuclear ambitions.
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