Special investigation looks into treatment of Warmbier while in North Korean custody

Posted at 7:53 PM, Jun 23, 2017

While he was attempting to leave North Korea after a five-day trip with Young Pioneer Tours, Otto Warmbier, who was 21 at the time, was accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel and disappeared.

Warmbier was arrested in March 2016. Weeks after that arrest, North Korean officials sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor for a “hostile act” against the state. He was in prison for 17 months before American officials were allowed to travel to North Korea to bring him home.

 Warmbier returned to the U.S. on June 13, unresponsive, in a coma. He died on June 19.

The cause of Warmbier’s imprisonment, medical condition and subsequent death are still unknown, but ABC’s Bob Woodruff traveled to the country for answers. He spoke with friends, experts and others who have been to North Korea, about Otto’s life and what he may have experienced while in detention.

Look for the special report on “20/20” Friday, June 23 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC