After much anticipation, President Trump did it – he finally got North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un to release three American men who had been detained in the country for more than a year.
One of the detainees, a businessman and a pastor, Kim Dong Chul, was first held captive while former President Obama was serving in the White House. Chul “spent at least 900 days in custody,” according to ABC News.
The three men are on their way to the United States and are traveling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The secretary held some senior level meetings in North Korea where he planned the upcoming meeting between Jong-Un and President Trump.
“I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting,” Trump tweeted. “They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set.
I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
“Secretary Pompeo and his ‘guests’ will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:00 A.M. in the morning. I will be there to greet them. Very exciting!” he added.
Secretary Pompeo and his “guests” will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:00 A.M. in the morning. I will be there to greet them. Very exciting!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
Here’s more on the detained men, via ABC News:
The three Americans — Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Kim Sang Duk, who is also known as Tony Kim — have been detained by North Koreans for more than a year.
[Chul’s] arrest stemmed from an allegation that he was trying to meet with a former North Korean soldier to receive classified information. North Korea said he was colluding with the South Korean spy agency, which denied being involved with Kim.
He was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years of hard labor.
The two other detainees, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
They were detained in 2017 and charged with “hostile acts” against the North Korean state.
Congratulations Mr. President! Your strong leadership and our America First policies are paying dividends here at home and on the world stage. This is one more great step towards peace! https://t.co/t2VP1o08BL
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 9, 2018
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 9, 2018
And, per Fox News:
The Americans were all detained within the last couple years.
Kim Dong Chul, a South Korea-born U.S. citizen and former Virginia resident, was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage. He reportedly ran a trade and hotel service company in Rason, a special economic zone on North Korea’s border with Russia.
Tony Kim was detained at Pyongyang’s airport in April 2017 and accused of unspecified “hostile acts” against the regime. He taught accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
Kim Hak Song, an ethnic Korean born in China, was detained in May 2017 for “hostile acts.” He worked in agricultural development at an experimental farm run by the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which was founded in 2010 with donations from Christian groups.
Another American detainee, Otto Warmbier, died in June 2017 — just days after he was brought back to the U.S. with severe brain damage. He had been arrested in January 2016 and accused of stealing a propaganda poster and was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor.
President Trump predicted the release of the hostages in a tweet nearly a week ago. Trump said last Wednesday, “As everybody is aware, the past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail. Stay tuned!”
As everybody is aware, the past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail. Stay tuned!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2018
Here’s even more, per ABC News:
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
The most recent case of an American being released from North Korean custody was that of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was arrested for stealing a propaganda poster. He suffered a mysterious brain injury while in North Korea and died six days after his release in June 2017.
The release of the remaining U.S. detainees had been expected to happen before the planned summit where Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The date and location of the summit haven’t been decided.