An American university student arrested in North Korea has publicly confessed to attempting to steal a political banner from a Pyongyang hotel.
Otto Warmbier appeared before a group of domestic and foreign journalists on Monday in the North Korean capital, accompanied by North Korean guards. The 21-year-old University of Virginia student, who was visiting North Korea with a tour group, was arrested last month before boarding a plane out of the country. He has been charged with committing a hostile act against the state, with the help of the United States.
Warmbier told reporters he removed a political slogan from a staff-only area of the hotel where the group was staying to give to a member of his church who wanted the banner to display as a “trophy.”
He said the church member offered him a used car worth $10,000 and told him that if he was caught and unable to return, Warmbier’s mother would get $200,000.
“I understand the severity of my crime, and I have no idea what sort of penalty I may face, but I am begging to the Korean people and government for my forgiveness. And I am praying to the heavens so that I may be returned home to my family,” he said during the statement.