Otto Warmbier Trends on Twitter as Users Call Out Donald Trump for Friendly Meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un

As President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un Sunday for an historic, brief face-to-face in the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea, many Twitter users criticized the president for his openly warm interactions with the head of a government that imprisoned and fatally beat American college student Otto Warmbier.

Warmbier was a student at the University of Virginia when, in 2016 he was arrested during a tour through North Korea and accused of attempting to steal a propaganda poster. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and hard labor. After 17 months in prison, the Trump administration negotiated Warmbier's release, but the 22-year-old had been left in a vegetative state due to his mistreatment while in custody. He passed away in June 2017 at a hospital in Cincinnati.

A number of Twitter users voiced concerns about Trump being so eager to meet with Kim in what they viewed as largely a photo opportunity.

Democratic Congressman Don Beyer from Virginia called out what he saw as Republican hypocrisy on North Korea.

"While GOP politicians scream 'socialist' at us for wanting workers to have a living wage and health care Trump is befriending a real-life communist dictator whose regime tortured and murdered Otto Warmbier and stockpiles nuclear weapons," tweeted Beyer.

Others questioned Trump's priorities, when the president has been so eager to call out his critics, like U.S. Women's National Team co-captain Megan Rapinoe, but was willing to do a meet-and-greet with Kim.

"Donald Trump came down harder on Megan Rapinoe for speaking than he did on Kim Jong-un for literally killing Otto Warmbier," wrote user Andrea Junker.

Former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, replied to the official White House Twitter account's video of the Trump-Kim handshake with just Warmbier's name:

Otto Warmbier

— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) June 30, 2019

Joyce Alene, a former federal prosecutor, noted that Trump has repeatedly acted warmly and conferred legitimacy on Kim.

"Trump endorsing American citizen Otto Warmbier's murderer. Again," tweeted Alene.

CNN correspondent Jim Sciutto criticized the president for citing goodwill efforts made by Kim's government but failing to mention North Korea's treatment of Warmbier: "Trump just cited return of US hostages as a sign of goodwill from North Korea, seeming to forget Otto Warmbier was returned brain damaged and near death."

Another frequent criticism of the Sunday DMZ meeting was the reported $2 million the U.S. agreed to pay North Korea to cover Warmbier's hospital bills during his incarceration.

"Ex-State Dept official confirmed Trump approved $2M to be paid to N Korea for Otto Warmbier's release," tweeted noted Trump critic Scott Dworkin. "So, Trump paid $2M to N Korean Gov't for Warmbier, while in a coma that was caused by the N Koreans, then lied about it. This SHOULD end his presidency. It's grotesque."

Warmbier's family has previously been critical of the Trump administration's policy toward North Korea.

"Unless we keep the pressure on North Korea, they are not going to change. I'm very afraid we are going to let up on this pressure," his mother Cindy Warmbier said at an event in May. "There's a charade going on right now—it's called diplomacy. How can you have diplomacy with someone who never tells the truth? I'm very skeptical."

Otto Warmbier
A photo from the memorial program for the funeral of Otto Warmbier at Wyoming High School, in Wyoming, Ohio, on June 22, 2017. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images