Negotiations by President Trump for the release of three American Christians who have been detained in North Korea as early as 2015 seem to be successful, as they have reportedly been relocated from a prison labor camp to a hotel near the capital city Pyongyang.
Trump confirmed that his administration was negotiating with North Korea to secure the release of the American prisoners, and on May 2, he posted a message via his Twitter account hinting about the potential release of the three men. “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!” Trump wrote.
The president also told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a conference in April, “We are likewise fighting very diligently to get the three American citizens back. I think there’s a good chance of doing it. We’re having very good dialogue.”
About the American Christians in North Korea
The first of the American Christians taken captive in North Korea was Kim Dong Chul, a Korean-American missionary who was arrested in October 2015 for subversion – for which he was given a 10-year sentence. Two years later in 2017, Kim Sang-duk, a professor at Pyongyang University for Science and Technology, was arrested for anti-state activities and trying to overthrow the government, for which he was given a 15-year sentence. The final prisoner, arrested just a month later, was Kim Hak Song, another Christian professor from Pyongyang University, who was arrested on suspicion of hostile acts and given a sentence of 10 years.
The prisoners have had no communication with their families since their detainment. Kim Sang-duk’s oldest son Sol, posted a YouTube video stating so, “My father had just finished his semester as a professor in North Korea when he was arrested at the airport,” said Sol. “No explanation was given. My family and I have had no contact with him since.”
Moving Towards Peace
Department of Defense sources have since verified that prisoners Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk, and Kim Hak-song were relocated to a hotel room, given health care, and are resting since they were transferred early last month.
The president and his national security adviser feel that releasing the three Americans shows a genuine effort on North Korea’s part to stay true to their word of working towards the historic summit between the two country leaders. “If North Korea releases the detained Americans before the North-US summit, it will be an opportunity to demonstrate their authenticity,” national security advisor John Bolton told Fox News.
Trump indicated that he will soon announce a location and date for his meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong. “We’re setting up meetings right now and I think it’s probably going to be announced over the next couple of days, location, and date,” Trump told White House reporters.
The leaders are expected to discuss a variety of topics at the summit that includes North Korea’s vow to give up atomic weapons and their promise to put an end to the nuclear testing they have been doing for the past decade. “The main thing, we want to get peace,” Trump said. “It was a big problem, and I think it’s going to work out.”
Activists working for the release of the men indicate the move of the prisoners from the work camp to the hotel is a gesture of goodwill by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in advance of the anticipated summit between him and President Trump planned for some time next month. Choi Sung-ryong, a leading activist, has faith this will result in a peaceful resolution.
“We heard it through our sources in North Korea late last month. We believe that Mr. Trump can take them back on the day of the US-North Korea summit or he can send an envoy to take them back to the US before the summit.”
~ 1776 Christian