Three Korean-American Detainees Freed and Returned Home


Date:                        May 10, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Accompanied Them Back from North Korea

05/10/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) - International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on May 10 at 2:40 a.m., three Korean-American detainees held by North Korea safely returned to the United States, accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk, and Kim Hak-song’s release comes at a time when the president of the United States and the leader of North Korea are expected to meet next month in Singapore. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Pyongyang on Monday to straighten out details for the summit and the prisoners were then freed and allowed to return home with him. The three appeared to be in good health when they were greeted by President Trump on Thursday.

Reuters reports that the three former prisoners were Korean-American missionary Kim Dong-chul, who was detained in 2015 and sentenced in 2016 to 10 years’ hard labor on spying charges; Kim Sang-duk, also referred to as Tony Kim, who taught for a month at the Western-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) before his arrest in 2017; and Kim Hak-song, who also taught at PUST and was detained last year for ‘hostile acts.’

According to various media sources, all three are Christians, with Kim Dong-chul and Kim Hak-song once serving as pastors, though it is not confirmed whether their arrests are linked to their faith. 

On the Facebook campaign page Free USA 3, Tony Kim’s family expressed appreciation for all of the support that they have received. “We are very grateful for the release of our husband and father, Tony Kim, and the other two American detainees. We want to thank all of those who have worked toward and contributed to his return home. We also want to thank the President for engaging directly with North Korea. Mostly, we thank God for Tony’s safe return.”

“While we rejoice that these three men have safely returned home,” Suzanne Scholte, chair of North Korea Freedom Coalition, told ICC, “we should not forget the fact that they were unjustly detained and that there are many other innocent people being unjustly held by the North Korean regime.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The release of Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk, and Kim Hak-song shows the goodwill of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ahead of the imminent US-NK summit.  However, this goodwill must also be extended to his own people – the 25 million North Koreans. They should be able to live free in their country, not denied their fundamental rights by the government. Pyongyang’s ongoing human rights violations should not go unnoticed as the international community deals with the regime.” 

For interviews with Gina Goh, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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