Metro Voice regularly asks our readers to pray for those being persecuted for their faith. We have some good news! Three Americans detained in North Korea, have reportedly been moved from a labor camp to a hotel on the outskirts of the capital city Pyongyang. Sources inside the Department of Defense say the hostages, Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Hak-song, were all moved from a labor camp early last month. They are being given food, medical treatment and rest.
President Donald Trump tweeted about their potential release: “As everybody is aware, the past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean labor camp, but to no avail. Stay tuned!” Trump encouraged followers.
Activists campaigning on behalf of the men say the move is a goodwill gesture ahead of the planned summit between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un this month. It is possible that Trump will bring them home when he returns from the historic peace-making trip. The president has made their release a top priority in talks with the North Koreans.
“We heard it through our sources in North Korea late last month, said Choi Sung-ryong, a leading activist. “We believe that Mr. Trump can take them back on the day of the US-North Korea summit or he can send an envoy to take them back to the US before the summit.”
Tony Kim, also known by his Korean name Kim Sang Duk, was arrested on April 22, 2017, just before boarding a plane for a flight back to the United States.
“My father had just finished his semester as a professor in North Korea when he was arrested at the airport,” said Kim’s eldest son, Sol, in a YouTube video, posted several months ago.
Kim was a professor at Pyongyang University for Science and Technology (PUST), the country’s only privately-run academic institution.
“My mom, brother and I miss our dad so much,” Kim’s son said in that video.
A month later, another Christian professor from PUST, Kim Hak Song, was also arrested.
Both were arrested on suspicion of “hostile acts.”
A third person, Kim Dong Chul, a Korean-American missionary, was arrested in October 2015 and sentenced in March 2016 to 10 years of hard labor for “subversion”.
President Trump’s national security adviser said earlier this week that releasing the three Americans would demonstrate North Korea’s sincerity in the run-up to a historic summit between the two leaders.
“If North Korea releases the detained Americans before the North-US summit, it will be an opportunity to demonstrate their authenticity,” John Bolton, Trump’s national security advisor, told Fox News.
President Trump confirmed last week that his administration was in high-level talks with North Korea to secure the release of the Americans.
“We are likewise fighting very diligently to get the three American citizens back,” Trump said at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in April. “I think there’s a good chance of doing it. We’re having very good dialogue.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also reportedly brought up the plight of the Christians when he secretly met with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un over the Easter weekend.
Meanwhile, President Trump says he’ll soon announce a location and date for his meeting with North Korea’s dictator.
“We’re setting up meetings right now and I think it’s probably going to be announced over the next couple of days, location, and date,” Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday.
The two leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of issues at the summit, including North Korea’s promise to end its nuclear testing and eventually give up its atomic weapons.
“The main thing, we want to get peace,” Trump said. “It was a big problem, and I think it’s going to work out.”
–Metro Voice and news services