US judge orders North Korea to pay $500 million in student's death

  • A federal judge has ordered North Korea to pay more than $500 million in a wrongful death suit filed by the parents of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who died shortly after being released from that country.
  • The judgment is largely a symbolic victory for now since there is no mechanism to force North Korea to pay.
Otto Warmbier (C), a University of Virginia student who was detained in North Korea from January 2016, is taken to court in the capital Pyongyang in this photo released March 16, 2016.
Kyodo | Reuters
Otto Warmbier (C), a University of Virginia student who was detained in North Korea from January 2016, is taken to court in the capital Pyongyang in this photo released March 16, 2016.

A federal judge has ordered North Korea to pay more than $500 million in a wrongful death suit filed by the parents of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who died shortly after being released from that country.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington ordered the payment on Monday.

Warmbier was a University of Virginia student who was visiting North Korea with a tour group when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March 2016 on suspicion of stealing a propaganda poster. He died in June 2017, shortly after he returned to the U.S. in a coma. His parents say he was tortured.

The judgment is largely a symbolic victory for now since there is no mechanism to force North Korea to pay.