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MISTAKE OF A LIFETIME: This theft of a propaganda poster bearing the North Korean leader’s name got this American FIFTEEN YEARS IN HARD LABOR PRISON

  • Student Otto Warmbier, 21, was given 15 years hard labor in North Korea
  • Warmbier stole a banner with a political slogan from his Pyongyang hotel
  • Images purporting to show that banner have been released, which bears the slogan ‘Let’s arm ourselves strongly with Kim Jong Il patriotism’
  • The phrase was used to glorify the former leader after his death in 2011, and posters bearing it are highly revered in the Communist state
  • CCTV footage claiming to show Warmbier taking the banner from the wall was also released by the North Korean courts
  • He said a church group had asked him to bring back a ‘trophy’ from his trip

This is the moment an American student on holiday to North Korea made ‘the worst mistake of his life’ by stealing a poster bearing the name of Kim Jong-il from the wall of his hotel, authorities say.

Otto Warmbier, 21, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a prison camp Wednesday for subversion after stealing the poster, which he said was requested by a member of his church group.

Partially-censored images purporting to show the banner have now been released by North Korea’s state news agency, along with CCTV which North Korea says shows the moment Warmbier removed it from the wall.

Warmbier was charged with trying to steal a banner featuring the name of Kim Jong-il, the state’s former leader. The banner reads: ‘Let’s arm ourselves strongly with Kim Jong-il patriotism!’


The phrase ‘Kim Jong-il patriotism’ was used to glorify the late leader after his 2011 death. The slogan was described by successor Kim Jong-un, as the ‘crystallization of socialist patriotism’.

Images and references to North Korea’s leaders, who are treated with almost god-like status in propaganda, are sacrosanct.

North Koreans are required to keep and carefully maintain portraits of former leaders Kim Jong-il and his father, Kim Il-sung. A special large, bold typeface is used when their names are printed.

The video purportedly shows Warmbier in a restricted area of his hotel in Pyongyang walking up to the wall before removing the rectangular poster



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