After American college student Otto Warmbier returned to the United States from North Korean captivity, Fox News aired an interview with Otto's father. Speaking with Fox's Tucker Carlson, Fred Warmbier described Otto's condition after release from North Korea, saying that his son was "not in great shape." Though vague, the updates shared on Thursday showed that the Warmbier family remains optimistic about their son's condition.
"You know, Otto's not in great shape right now. He's been through a real tough time," Fred said during the interview with Fox News. The phrasing seemed understated, to say the least, as reports on Tuesday revealed that Otto was returning to the United States in a coma. On Thursday, doctors issued an update, reportedly saying that Otto was in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness" with signs of extensive brain damage. In the words of Dr. Daniel Kanter, at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center:
While his son remained in a vegetative state, Otto's father was nonetheless happy to have Otto home. Speaking with Carlson, he described seeing Otto again for the first time as "fantastic."
Fred also expressed gratitude for the American officials who, he says, helped secure his son's release. Particularly, he mentioned Joseph Yun, the State Department's special representative for North Korea policy, as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump. "They wanted Otto home, and Cindy and I believe they made this happen, so we are thankful for that," Fred said.
Fred also credited the American officials with discerning his son's true condition in captivity. The Warmbier family reportedly did not learn of their son's comatose state until a week before his release. "I think that our government forced North Korea's hand and made them admit to Otto's situation," Fred said.
Fred called his son's situation "a different reality." When asked how the family is doing, he replied, "We're adjusting right now, we're adjusting to a different reality." It's a different reality, indeed, as the 22-year-old Otto is one of just a handful of Americans to be released from North Korean custody. In fact, he may be the only one to have returned in a comatose state. While Otto is back on American soil, at least three other American citizens remain in North Korean custody.
Speaking with Fox News, Fred said he "wouldn't trust" information coming out of North Korea. When asked if he knew what happened to his son while in custody, Fred only muttered, "I don't." He added, "Otto had been terrorized and brutalized for 18 months by a pariah regime in North Korea." North Korea, on the other hand, suggested that botulism and sleeping pills had led to the coma. Otto's father may now face a different reality, but there's no doubt the family is happy to have him home.