The parents of Otto Warmbier, who suffered a prolonged detention in North Korea and died after returning home in coma, have decided to award a scholarship under his son’s name to a North Korean defector who has settled in America, according to a report from the Voice of America (VOA) on Thursday.
According to the VOA, Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, made an announcement that the scholarship will go to a North Korean defector named Lee Seo-hyeon. “I was deeply inspired by her passion to fight for freedom in North Korea and forgo the comfortable life guaranteed as an elite in the North,” said Mr. Warmbier. “I hope my son’s legacy will help send a stronger message towards the North Korean leadership.” The father added that he will consider continuing to offer more scholarships to other students from North Korea.
Lee Seo-hyeon is a grad school student majoring in international relations at Columbia University. “The scholarship will send a strong message of hope for those who were unfairly victimized by the North Korean regime,” Lee said. “I will seek ways to help establish democracy in North Korea and turn it into a prosperous economy.”
The recipient of Warmbier scholarship is reported to be the daughter of Rhee Jeong-ho, who served as a high-ranking official in Room 39, or the Central Committee Bureau 39 of the Workers' Party of Korea, which is supposedly in charge of seeking ways to maintain the foreign currency slush fund for the country's leaders. The Rhee family left the North and settled in the United States in 2014. In a lecture, she said “I chose freedom over privilege, and it was worth more than anything in the world.”