One of the fatal errors with the Western approach to North Korea is that it is constantly underestimated. Caricatures of both its leaders and its government run amock in the media and lead people into thinking that they’re dealing with a state that came about via circumstance and luck rather than precise application of violence. In short, people think they’re dealing with a state that doesn’t know what it’s doing.
The case of Otto Warmbier however should change that. A common opinion is that this event was a tactically foolhardy dose of brutality from a regime that has got used to pushing its luck. In reality however, North Korea has mastered the art of testing the international waters whilst backing down. Every failed missile attempt that the Western media publicly scoffs at is in fact the perfect way to appear aggressive but harmless. North Korea knows that the second it begins to back down internationally its days are numbered; the US would relish the opportunity to eliminate one of China’s main tributary states and (as these things have often gone) create either unbridled chaos or a new modern democratic state on the border of their greatest rival. I predict the former.
Unfortunately for Otto Warmbier, he become the newest pawn in this game of testing the waters. When I lived in Japan friends would tell me how each time a new Japanese Prime Minister was sworn in, North Korea would test them with some encroachment on their waters or missile attempt conveniently directed at the Japanese mainland. The same has happened here with the US. It is my belief (and this is speculation) that Otto Warmbier is innocent of the crime of which he was convicted, or at the very least it was an opportunity jumped upon by the North Korean regime. I have included below a link to the footage from his trial of the alleged act, and cannot make out the figure as Otto Warmbier from the Queen of England. Unfortunately for him he either did not realize, or took the gamble and lost, that tourists to North Korea are part of a revolving group of hostages should the guns start firing. Around 100,000 people visit the Hermit Kingdom each year, mainly from Europe and the US, and their position will likely play a vital role in any negotiations should the situation come to blows.
Otto Warmbier trial footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzVGIAcLsf8