Written by By Staff Writer
(CNN) — Reality TV show? High end rehab? Sentenced to solitary confinement for 60 days in North Korea for practicing their Christian faith?
These are just some of the off-the-wall stories circulating in the international media about the aftermath of the death of US citizen Otto Warmbier in North Korea in June.
Warmbier, a 22-year-old former University of Virginia student, was imprisoned in March last year and sentenced to 15 years hard labor for alleged theft. He died last week after being returned to the US in a coma.
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The case has also spotlighted the appalling treatment of the nation’s religious minority, especially Christians.
Kim Jong-Un is the North Korean leader said to operate religious prisons
It is currently the government’s view that all religions are a threat to national security and that they are systematically suppressing freedom of religion.
Many of those who have spoken up in Warmbier’s memory or about other imprisoned Christians, blame Kim Jong-Un himself for subjecting the country’s religious minority to religious persecution.
Warmbier’s family have said they want to make it clear that while their son’s death was undoubtedly tragic, the charges leveled against him are wholly unwarranted.
“Otto died because of the brutality and injustice of the North Korean regime,” said family attorney, Jeb Smith.
Choi Soon, executive director of the Korean American Human Rights Commission, is further puzzled by the reporting surrounding the incident.
“I’ve been reading all these stories, and they’re talking about all these scary things,” she told CNN’s Cathy Horyn in an interview.
“But I do not have any of these things.”
“How are you so sure they are a threat to the regime? Why are you keeping silent about it?”