otto warmbier, an american student from the university of virginia (jfk’s alma mater), who allegedly stole a political poster has been sentenced to 15 years hard labor in north korea. one might ask 1.) who goes on holiday in north korea? 2.) why would you take something that is not yours? 3.) do white american male students suffer from the white american male privilege syndrom and forget that all bets are off when they travel overseas? 4.) was this an innocent mistake? well, obvious it was a mistake. and we don’t think otto warmbier is evil. we just think that maybe he’s clueless.
overall, when one travels outside of one’s home country, it is a good idea to follow the rules. as canada’s prime minister recently said, canadians wish americans would sometimes pay more attention to the rest of the world. he is probably not the only person. non-diplomat americans tend to travel thinking that the US laws are universal laws. freedom of speech, freedom of expression, etc. these laws may exist in other countries, but for instance, most countries in the EU have anti-hate speech laws. in singapore chewing gum has been banned for years. the list goes on.
at the same time north korea will use the video of otto warmbier as a propaganda tool to signify the impotence of american power.