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Warmbier appeared at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., Friday which hosted the “Seminar on the North Korean Abductions Issue.” She hosted the seminar with other families of those who have been abducted.
“He was a great student, fabulous son, great brother, lots of friends,” she said of her late son, who was in his third year at the University of Virginia.
“Unfortunately, I had no idea when he took the tour to North Korea what he was walking into,” she continued.
“North Korea to me is a cancer on the earth and if we ignore this cancer it’s not going to go away it’s going to kill all of us,” she said. “We don’t even know we have this cancer that’s why I talk there is a cancer I tell you.”
Warmbier said she was sure her son was sorry for “going into that God forsaken place.”
“Had I known North Korea wanted money for Otto I would have gladly given them money from day one,” she said. “That is not what they wanted from Otto in the beginning. They want everything they can get from them. They have no respect for human beings.”
Warmbier was appearing to reference that the U.S. received a $2 million hospital bill from the North Korean government for the care of Otto, who fell into a coma for unknown reasons while he was imprisoned in the country. North Korean officials did not tell American officials until June 2017 that he had been unconscious the entire time. He died less than a week after he returned to the U.S. the same month.
The mother said her “gorgeous boy” looked like “a monster” when he returned to the U.S.
“I swear the look in his eyes, which I didn’t know he was blind at the time, was absolute horror like he had seen the devil and he had, he was with the devil,” she said.
Warmbier spoke of diplomatic relations with North Korea, saying she remained skeptical.
“There is a charade going on right now. It’s called diplomacy. How can you have diplomacy with someone who doesn’t tell the truth? I’m all for it but I’m very skeptical,” she continued.
The mother said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “lies all for himself.”
“The only difference between [Adolf] Hitler and him [Kim Jong Un] is that he’s doing it to all of his people and other people too,” she concluded.
The mother said she will remain strong “because Otto was always proud of me for being strong.”
North Korea repeatedly has denied accusations Warmbier was tortured and officials told their U.S. counterparts at the time that he had suffered from botulism and then slipped into a coma after taking a sleeping pill.
Fox News’ Lucia Suarez Sang, Ben Evansky and the Associated Press contributed to this report.