© 2022 Cincinnati Public Radio
Connecting You to a World of Ideas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Otto Warmbier's Father: We're Relieved And Angry

Ann Thompson
Fred Warmbier, speaking publicly about his son Otto, is wearing the same jacket his son had on when confessing to stealing a propaganda poster in North Korea.

Two days after Wyoming High School graduate Otto Warmbier landed in Cincinnati on a medically equipped plane from North Korea, his father spoke to the media.

Fred Warmbier says he is feeling "relief now that  Otto is home in the arms of those who love him, and anger that he was so brutally treated for so long."

It was June 6 when Warmbier got the word that his 22-year-old son was in a coma and had been since he was sentenced in North Korea fifteen months earlier for stealing a propaganda poster from a hotel.

The older Warmbier said he felt disbelief and couldn't sit down. He says he doesn't know what being in shock is but he was pretty sure he was.

"For the last 18 months I've been brutalized with misinformation and no information," Warmbier said. 

While wearing the same jacket his son did while being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea, Fred said, "I know you have many questions about what transpired. So do we. We have few answers. There's no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son and no excuse for the way they have treated so many others. I call on them to release the other Americans being held. No other family should have to endure what the Warmbiers have."

President Trump called Wednesday to ask how the family was doing and said he was sorry about Otto's condition.

Cincinnati doctors say Warmbier suffered a severe neurological injury and is in stable condition. UC Medical Center will hold a news conference at 3:00 Thursday.

Meanwhile, Fred Warmbier has some harsh words for the North Korean regime.

"I would say I am so proud of Otto, my son, who has been in a pariah regime for the last 18 months, brutalized and terrorized and is now home with his family and I am just tremendously proud of Otto," Warmbier said. "His spirit is with us. And I can share my spirit with his spirit and I can share my spirit with him."

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.