It was just announced that three American citizens who had been held for the past year in North Korea have just been released. President Trump announced the news on Wednesday.
The POTUS announced the news on Twitter. He shared that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is returning to the U.S. with the former detainees.
He also shared that he will be there to greet them when they land early Thursday morning.
Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk were freed during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's second visit to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang in two months, reported CNN. They return just as President Trump prepares to meet with Kim Jong Un face-to-face in a history-making meeting.
"Trump's administration had previously said that if the North Koreans freed the three Americans, it would be viewed as a goodwill gesture ahead of the planned summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un," added CNN.
These American citizens were imprisoned on what many believe were bogus charges. It's wonderful that they have been released.
Here is what CNN knows about the three men. Although they share a surname, they are not released. All details are from CNN.
Kim Sang Duk, who also goes by the name Tony Kim, was detained last April during a brief teaching stint at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), which bills itself as the only privately run university in the North Korean capital.
Kim was boarding a flight at the airport in Pyongyang on April 22, 2017 when North Korean authorities detained him, according to the University. He was later accused of attempting to overthrow the North Korean government.
Kim Hak-song, another US citizen who was working at PUST, was detained on May 7, 2017. Kim is an agricultural expert who'd been teaching rice-growing at the university, his wife told CNN shortly after he was detained. She said Kim was innocent and merely trying to help North Koreans feed themselves. The country has for years struggled with famine and food insecurity.
"I believe 100% that you served our people with love," she said in an interview last May. "I hope you can stay strong there and hope you can return to our family very soon."
Kim Hak-song was also ordained as an evangelical Christian pastor affiliated with the Oriental Mission Church in Los Angeles, which could have presented problems in the atheist country. While it's unclear if Kim's faith had anything to do with his detention, other Americans have been severely punished for acts Pyongyang views as proselytizing.
Kim Dong Chul, a naturalized US citizen who used to live in Virginia, was arrested in October 2015 on spying charges. He was meeting a source to obtain a USB stick and camera used to gather military secrets, he told CNN in an interview in Pyongyang in January 2016, while in North Korean custody. The conversation was conducted in Korean through an official government translator and in the presence of a North Korean official.
The translation was later independently corroborated by CNN, but it's impossible to say if Kim was speaking under duress.
After a one-day trial, North Korea sentenced him to 10 years' hard labor on espionage charges in April 2016.
Praise the Lord for their release! In other news, here's how Democrats reacted to President Trump pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal.