May 9 (UPI) — The three remaining Americans held in North Korea were released from detention and are headed home, U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday.
Trump tweeted at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday the three men — Kim Dong Chul, Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, and Kim Hak-song — are traveling with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health,” Trump said in his tweet.
Trump also said Pompeo had a “good meeting” with Kim and that a date and place for his summit with the North Korean leader has been established.
I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set.- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
There were signs in early May North Korea was preparing the three prisoners for release.
South Korean activist Choi Sung-ryong, the representative of the group Family Assembly of those Abducted to North Korea, said the decision from North Korea to release the detainees came after Pompeo’s first meeting with Kim over Easter weekend.
Choi had also said the three U.S. citizens were first taken to a hotel for rehabilitation, then placed in a re-education program.
Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. Kim Dong Chul, president of a company involved in international trade and hotel services, was sentenced to 10 years on espionage charges.
At least one South Korean analyst has said North Korea made the move to demand the lifting of sanctions in return, but on Wednesday Trump made no references to any concessions Washington may have made for the release of the prisoners.