Fred Warmbier Opens Up About The Moment He Saw His Son Again
On Tuesday, Otto Warmbier, who is reportedly in a coma, was released from a North Korean prison after a year and a half of being detained. In an emotional press conference on Thursday, Warmbier's father Fred described his reunion with his son, saying that he was "so glad he made it home."
"What did I say to my son?" Fred said. "I knelt down by his side and I hugged him, and I told him I missed him and I was so glad that he made it home."
Fred appeared at Thursday's press conference wearing the same jacket Warmbier had worn while giving his confession in North Korea. Warmbier was arrested in North Korea in January 2016, just before he was due to fly out of Pyongyang International Airport. North Korean officials alleged that Warmbier had stolen a propaganda poster from the hotel where his tour group had been staying.
During the nearly 17 months since his arrest, his parents told Fox News' Tucker Carlson that they felt both the Obama and Trump administrations had been unable to reassure them that Warmbier would be released. After Warmbier's return to the U.S., however, Fred said that President Trump had called him to find out how he and his family were doing.
"It was a really nice conversation," Fred recounted. "To be honest with you I had avoided conversations with him because to what end? I'm dealing with my son. This is about Otto, but I did take the call and it was gracious."
Otto Warmbier's father on being reunited with his son after release from North Korea: "Told him I missed him...so glad that he made it home" pic.twitter.com/GGXoaT9c6Z— ABC News (@ABC) June 15, 2017
According to People, Fred also spoke to Carlson after his son's release, in an interview slated to be aired on Thursday evening. Fred told Carlson that Warmbier is "not in great shape." He also criticized the North Korean regime for its "brutal" treatment of his son.
“They’ve crossed a line with my son, Otto," Fred told Carlson. "It would be very difficult to look for a lesson here amongst this insanity.”
Now that Warmbier has returned, his parents told Fox News that they are "adjusting to a different reality." Nevertheless, Fred said during Thursday's press conference that he is "proud" of his son for embarking on such an experience. Time reported that Warmbier was one of 5,000 Westerners who set off to North Korea with a closely-monitored, structured tour program.
"I'm proud of Otto and the courage he showed by going to North Korea and having that adventurous side to him," Fred said.