What was supposed to be an enlightening and enjoyable trip to North Korea in 2016, turned into a death sentence for a 22-year-old student of the University of Virginia. Otto Warmbier allegedly stole a propaganda poster and was arrested in January, while trying to leave Pyongyang as part of a tour group. CBS News says that in March 2016, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor and according to a tweet by US President Donald Trump, Otto was "tortured beyond belief by North Korea."

Scarred forever

After more than a year away, Otto's parents finally saw him when he was flown back from North Korea in June 2017.

They told CBS they expected to find him in a "medically induced coma", following which, US doctors would have been able to bring him back to the best of health. Their dreams, however, were dashed when they were "confronted with the sound of inhuman howling so terrifying", that Otto's mom Cindy ran off the plane in fright and anguish. According to her and husband fred, the Otto they knew was gone and in his place, lay a young man on a stretcher, with a shaved head and a feeding tube coming out of his nose. Fred Warmbier said "He was blind. He was deaf. As we looked at him and tried to comfort him it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.” US doctors confirmed that he had suffered a "severe neurological injury" of uncertain cause and tried to resuscitate the young man who died less than a week after returning to his homeland.

In denial

Following the Warmbier's accusations of acting like terrorists, North Korea insisted that Otto was "dealt with according to domestic law and international standards". It also denied cruelly treating or torturing him and blamed botulism and the ingestion of a sleeping pill for Otto's condition. At a news conference on Wednesday, Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco revealed that Otto died from "a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain".

He told ABC News that "apart from an unusual scar", there was nothing, in his opinion, to suggest any kind of torture.

Strained relations

Fred Warmbier wants the world to know that North Korea "is not a victim", but rather, terrorists. He says they purposefully and intentionally injured his son and his family will forever be pained at the circumstances of his passing.

This latest news about North Korea comes at a particularly sensitive time, especially as it has accused President Trump of declaring war on them. Over the past year, North Korea has been testing nuclear missiles with the intention of someday, having them hit the US. In mid-September, the US described leader Kim Jong-un as "little rocket man". The offended North Korean fired back, calling Trump "a mentally deranged US dotard."