As the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un approaches, Pyongyang seemed determined to create some goodwill in advance and has decided to release three Americans who have been imprisoned in North Korea.
The news was broken by Rudy Giuliani while attending Fox and Friends show on Fox. Mr. Giuliani is currently serving as President Trump’s legal aid. Mr. Trump also took an opportunity to make an announcement on Twitter.
“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,” he said, despite the fact that two out of three detainees have been arrested in 2017 after he took over from Obama. Perhaps the Robert Mueller investigation has caused Mr. President to confuse dates.
The State Department refused to confirm Mr. Giuliani’s statement, only saying that it is “working to see US citizens who are detained in North Korea come home as soon as possible.” It is unclear from where Mr. Giuliani got his information.
Kim Hak-song is the most recent American prisoner in North Korea. He was working at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) when he was arrested on May 6th, 2017, on the charges of “hostile acts.” Hak-song is an agricultural expert, running an experimental farm on PUST. The university itself was founded in 2010 by Christian missionaries and is known for having children of North Korea’s elites among its students.
Kim Sang-duk/Tony Kim
Arrested two weeks before Kim Hak-song, Kim Sang-duk was charged with espionage. He also taught on PUST and was leaving the country as he was picked up by Kim Jong Un’s secret police. Some sources say that he wasn’t arrested for his work at the university, but rather for activities he was engaged in outside PUST.
Kim Dong-Chul is a pastor, currently serving a 10-year sentence for spying. He was arrested in 2015 and promptly sentenced to hard labor. In a televised confession, Kim Dong-Chul confessed working with South Korea and stealing information for them, something Seoul denied. He has a wife and two daughters, neither of which he has seen since his arrest.