This week, the federal district court in the District of Columbia awarded the parents of Otto Warmbier half-a-billion dollars for the death of their son at the hands of North Korean officials.
It is alleged that Otto was severely tortured for a minor offense and returned to the U.S. in a coma, and he later succumbed to his injuries. Otto was alleged to have removed a propaganda poster, and the evidence clearly shows that he was subjected to horrific acts of torture. North Korea did not respond to the lawsuit, and the massive judgment was ordered after a default judgment was entered.
Tragedy and Suing Nations
The story of Otto Warmbier is truly a tragedy. The college student went to North Korea with a tour group, and after removing a poster from a wall was imprisoned in North Korea for nearly a year and a half. As mentioned above, he was returned comatose, and died shortly thereafter. Not only was Otto returned blind and deaf and in a coma, many of his teeth appeared to have been intentionally misaligned.
Although there has been no official response from North Korea, the evidence is disturbing, and seems to make the massive default judgment pale in comparison to what was inflicted upon the young traveler. Sadly for the family, while the judgment may bring some comfort, enforcing the judgment might be a whole different trick as there isn't much to seize domestically and getting the North Korean government to cooperate isn't likely given that Otto was tortured.