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Kim Jong Un, has gone too far. In the last couple of weeks, A US citizen was released from their ‘care’ in the penal system.

He went into the system a handsome, good looking, intelligent 19 year old young man. He left it with brain damage and ultimately died.

And his ‘crime’ is so heinous no one would listen.

Sorry, but his crime was a silly, adolescent mistake. He ‘stole’ a propaganda poster. In the West, he would have had a bloody good telling off and told to do community service. He didn’t rape someone, he didn’t commit murder. He took a propaganda poster as a souvenir. A single piece of paper.

Yes, what he did was wrong, and a bloody good telling off would have been the right action, not a jail sentence.

The man in question, who we will name out of respect, was 21 year old Otto Warmbier. He was visiting the country and as a souvenir, he took a poster. Hardly the crime of the year. The way Korean media portrayed it, you’d think he’d destroyed a priceless work of art and the defecated on it.

The reality is far simpler, and far more sinister.

This young man, who shouldn’t have taken a propaganda poster, did nothing more than collect a souvenir. We have all done it. A twig, a rock, a glass. We take these things to remind us of the time we went to somewhere. We take them to remember what where ever we had been was like it was, and to jog out memories.

Otto, was caught out, and sentenced to a full prison term under the draconian and barbaric regime Kim has implemented.

He was tortured and brutalized, and ultimately left brain damaged. This wasn’t a simple case of Waterboarding. It wasn’t simply water torture. The coroner has undisputable evidence, that Otto’s brain damage was due to prolonged and consistent blows to his head.

We read all the time about sex games. Where one person is roughed up a bit, but this wasn’t in the same league. This was calculated. Essentially a War Crime.

The boy was tortured, beaten, malnourished and neglected.

The UK and the US are fairly close allies, and where one fails, the other should step in. Otto could have done so many things in his life. He could have changed the world. All we know now is that Otto is not longer with us, and that North Korea has a lot of questions to answer.

For stealing a piece of paper, a fate worse than death is absolutely absurd. It’s almost like NK want to make an example. It’s not going to happen. We are strong, we are stable, we have morals, and most of all, we have empathy.

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Sara O'Connell
A passionate photographer from Arizona, Sara enjoys art and culture.