An American college student, Otto Frederick Warmbier, who has been detained in North Korea since January 2, appeared in a state-sponsored news conference, confessing to severe crimes of trying to steal a political banner from a hotel.
Warmbier, 21, is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Virginia and had entered the country on a tourist visa.
He appeared to confess to his "severe crimes" against the regime at a press conference that took place at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang.
"I made the worst mistake of my life," he said while weeping and pleading dramatically.
He was arrested at the airport just before he was about to leave the country after a five-day tour. The trip was organized by a China-based travel company called Young Pioneer Tours, and his return journey was supposed to have a stopover at Hong Kong, where he was to participate in a finance class sponsored by the UVA.
"The aim of my task was to harm the motivation and work ethic of the Korean people. This was a very foolish aim," he said.
"I committed my crime of taking out the important political slogan from the staff-only area of the Yanggakdo International Hotel." He allegedly sneaked onto the 2nd floor during the early morning hours and tried to steal the banner hanging on the wall with the intention to smuggle it outside the country in his suitcase. But since it was too big, he left it on the floor and went back to his room.
Warmbier said that he tried to steal the slogan on the insistence of a member of Friendship United Methodist Church in Wyoming, Ohio, who promised to give him a used car worth $10,000 in return. According to his confession, the church also said that they would pay his mother $200,000 if he gets arrested while stealing. But now, because he mentioned the church name, the money would not be paid, he said.
Allegations against him also state that he is a member of secretive Z society at his university, which North Korea says has ties with the CIA.
"I apologize to each and every one of the millions of the Korean people, and I beg that you see how I was used and manipulated. I was used by the United States administration like many before," he said.
"I never, never should have allowed myself to be lured by the United States administration to commit a crime in this country," he continued. "I wish that the United States administration never manipulate people like myself in the future to commit crimes against foreign countries. I entirely beg you, the people and government of the DPRK, for your forgiveness. Please! I made the worst mistake of my life!"
It is not clear if he was forced to read out the statements. He also said that he was thankful to North Korea's "humanitarian treatment of severe criminals like myself."
North Korean detainees usually have to go through these "confessions" before being freed.
Warmbier's parents Fred Warmbier said in a statement released through the UVA:
"I hope the fact that he has conveyed his sincere apology for anything that he may have done wrong will now make it possible for the DPRK authorities to allow him to return home. I urge the DPRK government to consider his youth and make an important humanitarian gesture by allowing him to return to his loved ones."