June 23, 2017
A University of Delaware adjunct professor came under fire this week after she wrote on Facebook that Otto Warmbier "got exactly what he deserved."
Warmbier, who attended the University of Virginia, had taken a trip to North Korea when he was reportedly arrested at Pyongyang Airport in January 2016 for trying to steal a propaganda banner. Two months later, he was sentenced to prison with hard labor.
Warmbier died on Monday, just days after North Korea released him to the U.S. following 17 months of jail time there. He was comatose when he returned to the United States.
The story got quite a heated reaction from Kathy Dettwyler, a professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware.
In online posts, she called Warmbier a "spoiled, naive, arrogant" student who "never had to face the consequences of his actions."
"Is it wrong of me to think Otto Warmbier got exactly what he deserved?" she reportedly posted on Facebook this Wednesday, continuing that the dead student reminded her of the "young, white, rich, clueless males" she teaches at the Newark, Del. university.
"How about a few moments of thought given to all the other people in North Korea who are suffering under the repressive government there?" Dettwyler wrote, according to a Fox News story. "Just because they are North Koreans, and not US citizens, we shouldn't take care of them?"
She also blamed Warmbier's parents for his "growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted," according to Campusreform.org.
News outlets and people on social media picked up on Dettwyler's comments this week, sparking online debate.
Several reviewers also slapped Dettwyler with an "awful" rating on Ratemyprofessors.com Friday, with one saying calling her a "racist bigot who is getting exactly the grade she deserves."
The North Korean government said Warmbier, who had severe brain damage when he was returned, fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill in March 2016. His family has said they believe he was tortured into a vegetative state while in detention.