In the United States, roughly 20 million people suffer from depression at any given time. Those depression rates may very well increase over the next couple of years as world events take a turn for the worse. While the UK has suffered a series of tragedies over the past couple of months, the US was delivered a punch to the heart itself on June 19 with the death of college student Otto Warmbier.
In 2016, Warmbier had traveled to North Korea for a planned five days with the intention of doing what most college students enjoy doing overseas: sightseeing. However, instead of a week, Warmbier spent 17 months in detention. Those 17 months were just a part of the 15-year hard labor sentence Warmbier had been submitted to for the crime of attempting to steal a hotel poster after a tour. While in detention, Warmbier’s family believes he had been tortured into a vegetative state.
A week after Warmbier had returned to the United States in a coma with severe brain damage, he died in Cincinnati, Ohio at the age of 22. Warmbier is reported to have been in a coma since March 2016.
“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds,” Warmbier’s family said to CNN. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person.”
However, the nation’s focus is not as positive. The college student’s death has resulted in the possibility of closing off American visitations to North Korea. Yet the United States is not the only country thinking of doing so. North Korea has three other American citizens in custody as well as six South Koreans, many Chinese citizens, and a Canadian pastor.
On June 20, the president of South Korea demanded an immediate release of the South Koreans and Americans in North Korea’s possession.
The Guardian states, “Its president, Moon Jae-in, described North Korea’s human rights abuses as ‘deplorable’, adding that South Korea would make every effort to win the release of the remaining detainees, according to a spokesman.”
What will become of the world citizens detained by North Korea under hard labor sentences is uncertain. However, what is certain is that the death of Otto Warmbier has opened the eyes of many foreign countries including the United States. Many countries may soon be closing their tourist doors on North Korea.