Remember the nuclear missile tests? Remember President Trump calling Kim Jong Un “little rocket man”? But then remember the two of them kissing and making up at their bizarre Singapore summit?
It was a wild ride for a few years there, but a global pandemic and a presidential election in the US have taken the world’s gaze elsewhere.
But this week we got a little reminder of what Kim Jong Un is all about: launching his first missile tests since Joe Biden took office in the White House.
The important point to be made here is that North Korea hasn’t changed its ways — it’s not like the country has started behaving in the last year or two, we just stopped paying attention.
That’s why voices like Fred and Cindy Warmbier are so important.
They’re not you your normal players in international politics, but that’s what makes you sit up and listen when they speak.
They certainly never coveted the role of galvanising a global movement to bring about regime change in a rogue nation.
Up until 2016, the couple led very peaceful and modest lives in suburban Cincinnati, raising three children.
Like most parents, they wanted the world for their kids, and their kids wanted to see the world.
None more so than their oldest boy, Otto — he’d already visited Cuba, Israel, South America, and Europe when he decided his next destination would be North Korea.
It prompted an age-old conundrum for his parents: you naturally worry for you child, but also don’t want to hold them back from living their dreams once they reach adulthood.
So Otto, then 21 years old, set off with a tour group for a five day trip of a lifetime to the rogue state, then engaged in a delicate game of international brinkmanship with his native country, the USA.
The Warmbiers could never have realised Otto was about to become a pawn in that very game.
The rest is now a sad chapter in history: the young man was captured by the North Koreans and used as a bargaining chip as they expanded their nuclear weapons program.
Fifteen months later he was returned to America in a coma, and died six days later.
Despite their utter heartbreak, Fred and Cindy Warmbier have decided not to let this tragedy break them completely.
“I’ll tell you what it does Tom, it’s a motivator”, Fred told me.
It was an honour that they chose to sit down with us for their feature interview on television, nearly four years after the senseless killing of their boy.
Having been to North Korea myself on two occasions, I’ve spoken to countless experts over the years on the Korea conundrum.
But none of them have ever have the cut through of an everyday mum and dad, who can bring home just how barbaric Kim Jong Un’s regime is.
Otto’s tragic death has given Fred and Cindy’s lives new meaning.
Their story, coupled with the hidden camera sting exposing North Korea’s missile deals (including right here in Australia) are a timely reminder not to forget about the dangers of Pyongyang’s powerbrokers.
This content first appear on 9news