On Tuesday, news outlets disclosed that American college student, Otto Warmbier, had finally been released after more than 17 months in detention in North Korea. According to Warmbier’s parents, he is currently in a coma after he contracted botulism, a paralyzing nerve toxin, and is still in “bad shape.”
Warmbier is said to have stolen a banner containing a political slogan that was hanging from the walls of his Pyongyang hotel. He was charged in March 2016 with 15 years of hard labor for committing “hostile acts” against the regime.
Warmbier’s sentencing did not do much to improve the already strained relations between the U.S. and North Korea, and news of his condition has Americans further questioning the credibility of Warmbier’s charge and the communist nation itself.
In a story published by CNN, Warmbier’s parents are said to have stated they were “encouraged by US President Donald Trump’s willingness to improve relations with North Korea.” Their hope begs the question, are better relations with North Korea really what America needs?
North Korea is known to be one of the most brutal and closed-off nations in the world. We have little information about the country, and much of what we do know is most likely communist propaganda. We know little about the truth behind its political system, and most of the interactions the U.S. has had with the country have been accompanied with mass skepticism.
Warmbier’s return was no exception. His release suspiciously coincided with former Chicago Bulls basketball player Dennis Rodman’s arrival in North Korea. This continues an eerie pattern we have seen with captives in North Korea throughout history.
According to The Washington Post, previous detainees of the communist nation have been released after visits from high-profile Americans, such as former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Although it has not yet been confirmed that Rodman’s arrival in North Korea is related to Warmbier’s release, people are speculating he may be traveling in order to help free Warmbier and the three other Americans currently being detained in the country.
We believe any relationship the U.S. could have with North Korea in the future will not be an honorable one.
Americans still have too many questions and fears to fully trust any interactions we could have with North Korea. We have heard stories for years of North Korean leaders brainwashing their citizens and forcing detainees to make false and incriminating statements. Now we question whether we are trading in high-profile Americans to retrieve imprisoned Americans.
Every statement released from North Korea is taken in with reasonable disbelief and mistrust. We have been told that political leaders of the regime often produce false statements and portray a false existence to the Western world so we do not fear the reality of life behind its borders.
The fact of the matter is, no amount of effort will improve our relations with North Korea. We are the enemy to North Korea and them to us. We are a free, Western nation trying to fix a communist nation that sees no error in its ways. North Korea is infuriated by our very existence. There is no amount of compromise that will improve our relations or secure our safety against the Eastern nation. We will not be happy until they accept Western ideals, and they won’t be happy until we abandon them. By attempting to find a middle ground, we only further aggravate them.
We believe it is best in the case of North Korea to let sleeping dogs lay.