The parents of former U.S. hostage Otto Warmbier, who died in 2017 after being released from North Korea in a coma, have announced they will attempt to seize North Korean business assets around the world to punish the country’s government over its human-rights abuses.
Otto Warmbier was convicted in a North Korean court after he tried to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel. He was released to the U.S. in a vegetative state a year later.
Otto’s parents have alleged he was tortured. North Korea has denied the allegations, asserting it was the “biggest victim” in Otto’s death and, without evidence, attributing Warmbier’s death to botulism.
“My mission would be to hold North Korea responsible, to recover and discover their assets around the world,” Fred Warmbier said at a Friday press conference in Seoul, South Korea, according to the Associated Press. Fred and his wife Cindy had been invited to speak at a forum for a group representing South Korean families whose members were abducted by North Korea over the course of the 1950-53 Korean War.
“We feel that if you force North Korea to engage the world in a legal standpoint, then they will have to ultimately have a dialogue,” he continued. “They are not going to come and have a dialogue with us any other way.”
The Warmbiers plan to pressure European governments to close hostels run by North Korea. They are already pursuing legal action against a hostel on the grounds of North Korea’s embassy in Berlin.
“We cannot give up, we can’t give them a pass. We have to fight with all of our power,” Cindy Warmbier said at the conference.
President Trump has repeatedly sought to negotiate the removal of nuclear weapons from North Korea, and became the first American president to meet with a North Korean leader during negotiations. Those negotiations are currently stalled.