A peculiar story emerged late last week that renewed our concerns about the villainy of North Korea, and in particular, dictator Kim Jong Un.
The bizarre tale surrounds the horrifying story of Otto Warmbier – an American student who was sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean prison camp for removing a propaganda poster from the wall of his hotel. Just weeks into his sentence, Warmbier was in vegetive state, due most certainly from the inhumane torture that he endured. Warmbier was finally returned to the US in 2017, but died shortly thereafter having never regained his capacities.
Last week, news broke that North Korea had actually attempted to bill the United States for Warmbier’s medical care and transport – a request that has not been fulfilled by the Trump administration.
Now it seems that this was merely a cover story.
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Joseph Yun, the former State Department Special Representative for North Korea, confirmed Monday that he signed an agreement to pay North Korea $2 million for the release of American student Otto Warmbier in 2017.
In an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto, Yun said that he did so with the approval of then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and that it was his understanding President Donald Trump had also signed off on the decision.
“As soon as North Korea side told me that this bill for $2 million would have to be paid … I contacted my boss then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,” Yun said, noting that Tillerson “got back to me very quickly thereafter to say yes, go ahead and sign.”
The former US Special Representative added that it was his understanding the decision had been approved by Trump himself.
We now know, however, that the administration has refused to pay North Korea the sum, effectively suggesting that Donald Trump’s team negotiated Warmbier’s release possibly in the absence of any intention to pay the ransom.
This certainly ins’t the sort of move you will find taught in The Art of The Deal, but it certainly feels good to get one over on Kim Jong Un.
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