In a last minute surprise, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hosted Cindy and Fred Warmbier as their guests for the State of the Union. Fred and Cindy are the parents of Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was tortured and put into coma by the North Korean regime. He was returned to the United States last year and died just days after making it home.
"Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state," Trump said. "After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June -- horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return."
"Otto's Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight-- along with Otto's brother and sister, Austin and Greta. You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto's memory with American resolve," he continued.
Trump also welcomed a man who fled North Korea and told his story.
"In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain. His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves -- permanently stunting their own growth," Trump said. "Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China. His tormentors wanted to know if he had met any Christians. He had -- and he resolved to be free."
"Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to death," he continued. "Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most -- the truth. "Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all."