News and Commentary

Three Hostages Freed From North Korea Thank Trump, Pompeo

Eleven months after Otto Warmbier was released in a coma after a year in imprisonment by the totalitarian North Korean regime, President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo successfully negotiated the release of three American detainees. On Wednesday, the three men, who Trump says appear to be in “good health,” issued a statement personally thanking Trump and Pompeo, as well as the government and people of the United States, for bringing them home.

“We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home,” the three freed Americans — Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song, and Tony Kim — said in a statement Wednesday.

In a tweet earlier Wednesday, Trump said the three men “seem to be in good health,” an assessment echoed by the White House, which described the men as appearing to be “in good condition” and “able to walk on the plane without assistance.”

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

The three men are flying back with Secretary Pompeo, arriving at Joint Base Andrews near Washington, D.C. at around 2 a.m. Thursday morning, CBS reports.

One of the men, Kim Dong Chul, had been imprisoned for two years. Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim were detained a year ago while working at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. All three men were imprisoned for alleged “anti-state” activity.

After reports that he was safely in American custody, Kim’s family issued a statement thanking the president for “engaging directly” with the regime on behave of their loved one.

“We are very grateful for the release of our husband and father, Tony Kim, and the other two American detainees,” Kim’s family said in the statement. “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.”

The release of the prisoners comes less than two weeks after the historic April 27 summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in the Demilitarized Zone. Pompeo’s purpose in traveling to North Korea this week was in preparation for the much-anticipated meeting between Trump and Kim, which will be the first time a sitting American president meets with a North Korean leader. Pompeo described his meetings with Kim as “productive.”

Related: NY Times Rips Pompeo For Absence During Iran Deal Announcement. He Was Busy Rescuing Detainees In North Korea.