On Thursday at 2:00 a.m., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C., with the three Americans who had previously been held hostage by the regime in North Korea.
Kim Hak Song, Kim Dong Chul, and Kim Sang Duk were finally freed by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un this week, after spending two years in gulags throughout the country.
Kim Hak Song was an employee at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea before he was detained on suspicion of “hostile acts” against the state. Reuters reported that he had previously described himself as a Christian missionary.
Kim Dong Chul was detained in April 2016 on charges of spying on the North Korean government on behalf of a South Korean intelligence agency. Pyongyang claimed he had a USB drive in his possession that contained North Korean military secrets. The U.S. government denied the charges, claiming the American was unfairly used by the Kim regime to obtain leverage against the United States.
Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, was a professor at a Pyongyang university who has been imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp since April 2017. He was charged with “hostile criminal acts with an aim to subvert the country.”
The three were ecstatic upon touching down at Joint Base Andrews early Thursday.
VIDEO: Three American detainees freed by North Korea have arrived at Joint Base Andrews near Washington, with President Trump and First Lady Melania there to greet them pic.twitter.com/Ywe5kE96yV
— AFP news agency (@AFP) May 10, 2018
“It is like a dream. We are very, very happy,” Kim Dong Chul said after arriving on American soil.
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump, along with a contingent of reporters and select executive branch personnel, were on hand to witness the historic event.
"My proudest achievement will be… when we denuclearize that entire [Korean] peninsula," Trump says at Joint Base Andrews after the release of 3 U.S. detainees from North Korea https://t.co/XQOBttujPu #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/OqHiknZzda
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) May 10, 2018
President Trump remarked that it was a “special night for these three really great people,” adding that “they’ve been through a lot.” The president also took the time to recognize the late Otto Warmbier, who it is thought was tortured while in North Korean custody. The 22-year-old Warmbier died shortly after being released to the U.S.
The hostage release comes as President Trump is in the final stages of negotiations over a face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong Un. The president announced Thursday on Twitter that he would be meeting with Kim on June 12 in Singapore.
The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2018
It will be the first time a North Korean head of state and the American president will meet face to face.