A US Congressman questioned Mike Pompeo on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's culpability for human rights violations, pressing the Secretary of State to answer how such a person could be likeable, the media reported.
Representative Tom Malinowski, a former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, asked Pompeo on Wednesday whether the North Korean leader was responsible for the country's labour camps and the deaths of his uncle and half-brother, CNN reported.
To each of those questions, Pompeo replied: "He's the leader of the country."
The New Jersey Democrat then asked whether Kim "was responsible for the decision not to allow Otto Warmbier to come home until he was on death's door".
North Korea released Warmbier in June 2017 after more than a year of imprisonment. He was returned to the US in a coma, blind and deaf. He never regained consciousness and died days later at the age of 22.
US officials blamed North Korea for the brain damage that led to his death.
Pompeo deferred to remarks from President Donald Trump, who said after his second summit with Kim that he did not hold the North Korean leader responsible for Warmbier's death.
"He made that statement. We all know that the North Korean regime was responsible for the tragedy that occurred to Otto Warmbier. I've met that family, I know those people, I love them dearly. They suffered mightily," the Secretary of State added.
Following this line of questioning, Malinowski twice asked Pompeo "what's to like" about Kim.
The Secretary of State told him not to "make this a political football".