American arrested in North Korea apologizes

An American student detained in North Korea appeared in a government-arranged press conference Monday and confessed to stealing banner with a political slogan from a Pyongyang hotel.

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“On the early morning on Jan. 1, 2016, I committed my crime of taking out the important political slogan from the staff-only area Yanggakdo International Hotel aimed at harming the work ethic and the motivation of the Korean people,” Otto Warmbier said, according to an Associated Press video of the news conference.

“Please, I made the worst of mistake of my life," he said later while sobbing.

It’s unclear if the press conference and confession were given under duress.

Warmbier, an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, was arrested on Jan. 2 at a Pyongyang airport on his way back to China after a five-day trip, Reuters reported last month.

According to North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, Warmbier said a member of his church had offered him a $10,000 used car if took the banner as a trophy.

He also said a secret society at his school, Z Society, encouraged him to do it, according to KCNA.

“I am begging to the Korean people and government for my forgiveness, and I am praying to the heavens so that I may be returned home to my family,” he said at the press conference.

News of Warmbier’s arrest broke after North Korea claimed to successfully tested hydrogen bomb. Tensions have only heightened since then after North Korea launched a long-range rocket.

Last week, the United States proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for tough sanctions against North Korea in response to the nuclear test and rocket launch.