President Donald Trump said he confronted Kim Jong-un about the death of American hostage Otto Warmbeir, who died shortly after his release from North Korean prisons in 2017.
Washington Post reporter David Nakamura asked Trump during a press conference why he called Kim his “friend” despite the abuse of Warmbeir that ultimately killed him. Trump held a press conference for reporters about the summit in Vietnam after cutting short denuclearization negotiations with Kim.
Trump said that he did not believe that Kim knew about the brutal conditions that Warmbier experienced.
“You have a lot of people. And some really bad things happened to Otto. Some really, really bad things,” Trump said. “But he tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.”
The 21-year-old Warmbier was apprehended by North Korean officials in 2016 for allegedly tearing down a propaganda poster during a trip. He remained imprisoned for a year and a half before returning to the United States in a coma in June 2017 after the Trump administration insisted on his return.
The president said he had a good relationship with the Warmbier family and said it was terrible that he was returned in a bad condition.
Trump said he did not think that Kim would have allowed Warmbier to be abused because it was not advantageous. He added, however, that prisons were “rough places” where “bad things happened.”
“He felt badly about it,” Trump asserted. “I did speak about it. He knew the case very well.”