The administration said three American prisoners walked to a plane without assistance after being freed by dictator Kim Jong-un during a visit from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to set the terms for an upcoming meeting between Kim and President Trump.
Kim Dong Chul, a businessman and naturalized U.S. citizen who previously lived in Fairfax, Va., was arrested in North Korea’s special economic zone in October 2015 and accused of spying for the South Koreans, which Seoul denied. In a forced confession, Kim said he was guilty of espionage and spreading Christianity. Kim, 64, was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor.
Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-duk, 59, was a professor at China’s Yanbian University of Science and Technology who had been visiting to teach at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, the only private college in the country with a sizable foreign staff, for a period of several weeks. Kim had also been a humanitarian aid worker in North Korea and helped deliver critical foreign aid to regions devastated by 2016 floods. He and his wife were arrested in April as they tried to fly out of the country; she was released while he was detained and accused of committing hostile acts.
Kim Hak-Song, 55, was working in agricultural development at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, managing experimental research to address the country’s food shortage. He was arrested last May. Like Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim and former hostage Kenneth Bae, Kim Hak-Song is a Christian.
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