Politics

Three Americans Imprisoned in North Korea Return to U.S.

Early Wednesday morning, President Trump announced via Twitter that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was returning from a visit to North Korea with three American citizens that had been detained by the Pyongyang regime.

Kim Dong-Chul, Tony Kim (also known as Kim Sang-Duk), and Kim Hak-Song (also known as Jin Xue Song), American citizens being held as prisoners in North Korea’s brutal labor camps, were released by the North Korean government after a visit by Secretary of State Pompeo. News of their release came via President Trump’s Twitter account, where the president also announced that a time and place for a historic meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un had been set.

Kim Dong-Chul was arrested in 2015 and accused of being a spy for South Korea; the 62-year-old man was sentenced to 10 years in prison and hard labor after being convicted of espionage. Dong-Chul ran a trade and hotel service company in Rason, the special economic zone of the border between North Korea and Russia. Both Tony Kim and Kim Hak-Song were accused of carrying out hostile acts while working at a North Korean university, with Tony Kim being arrested in April 2017 and Kim Hak-Song being arrested in May 2017. Tony Kim taught business and accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), the only privately-run university in the North Korea’s capital city. Hak-Song was an agricultural expert that worked on an experimental farm run by the university and was endeavoring to teach North Koreans how to more effectively grow rice in a country plagued by famine.

“We’re starting off on a new footing. This is a wonderful thing that he released the folks early” said President Donald Trump.

The president and first lady met the aircraft when it touched down at Joint Base Andrews in the early morning hours, boarding the aircraft and meeting with the men before they exited the aircraft and set foot on American soil for the first time in far too long.

The last release of an American held by North Korea happened last summer, when a comatose Otto Warmbier was freed and died shortly thereafter, having apparently undergone torture and neglect that cost the young college student his life.

The groundbreaking meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un will take place in Singapore on June 12, 2018.  This is the first time that a North Korean leader has met with a sitting American president. Officially, the United States and North Korea have no diplomatic relations and are still technically at war with each other, as the agreement that ended combat in Korea was a cease-fire and not a treaty. President Trump has stated that his goals are to finally end the Korean War and remove all nuclear weapons from the entire Korean peninsula, which is something that both North and South Korea have seemed open and eager to discuss.

“I think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful. My proudest achievement will be – this is part of it- when we denuclearize the entire peninsula,” President Trump said.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Chris Erickson

Chris Erickson is a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier. He spent over 10 years in the Army and performed multiple combat deployments, as well as various global training missions throughout the world. He is still active in the veteran community and currently works in the communications industry. Follow him @EricksonPrime on Twitter.

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