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North Korea returns three Americans

Justin English, Staff Contributor

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returned from North Korea with three American hostages that had been held captive for years in North Korea. The three flew home directly with Pompeo and were met by President Trump upon their arrival.

The gesture of goodwill prompted a statement from the White House: “President Trump appreciates leader Kim Jong Un’s action to release these American citizens, and views this as a positive gesture of goodwill. The three Americans appear to be in good condition and were all able to walk on the plane without assistance.”

The three Americans released were Kim Sang-duk, Kim Dong Chul and Kim Hak-song.

Kim Sang-duk was a teacher in North Korea who was arrested in 2017. Kim Dong Chul had been working in trading and hotel business, and Kim Hak-song worked in agricultural development.

The three Americans had been arrested for espionage and hostile acts. However, all three had been involved in religious activities and their arrests were likely correlated with their religious involvement.

The largest reason for their arrest, as NPR’s Anthony Kuhn notes, was likely irrelevant to any of their activities. “Experts basically believe that these three were basically detained in order to serve as bargaining chips with the U.S. for North Korea, or even, in the event of a military conflict, human shields.”

The releases came during Pompeo’s second secretive trip to Korea in recent weeks, and speaks to his success. Pompeo had managed to work out an arrangement for Trump to meet with Kim Jong Un. The meeting will not take place in the demilitarized zone, but will instead occur in North Korea.

Trump was appreciative of the release of the victims, and seems eager to move forward on talks with North Korea. Hopefully the release of the victims is indicative of the thawing relationship between the U.S and North Korea and foreshadows a successful summit with the two presidents.

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North Korea returns three Americans