South Korean Media: North Korea Preparing 3 U.S. Hostages for Release
Three Americans currently detained in North Korea are being prepared for release, South Korean media reports.
According to DongA, the hostages were removed from labor camps in early April ahead of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The detainees are reportedly receiving “ideological education” and health treatment at a hotel outside the North Korean capitol after appearing to have “deteriorated during the imprisonment.”
DongA says the Kim regime is hoping to avoid a repeat of the situation with Otto Warmbier, the American university student who died last year shortly after being released by North Korea.
The three hostages include 64-year-old Kim Dong Chul – who was arrested in 2015 and accused of espionage and spreading Christianity prior to being sentenced to 10 years hard labor – 59-year-old Tony Kim – a professor and aid worker accused of committing hostile acts last year – and 55-year-old Kim Hak Song – who was also arrested in 2017 while working at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
Trump stated last month during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that his administration had been in talks with Pyongyang over the hostages release.
“The fact is that they do have three prisoners. We have been talking about them,” Trump told reporters. “We’re negotiating now. We are doing our very best. As you know, they’ve been there a long time. And it’s harsh treatment.”
A senior White House official speaking on condition of anonymity with The Associated Press last month said then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo discussed the hostages during his trip to North Korea over Easter weekend.
News of the potential release comes as North Korea announces its plan to close its nuclear test site at Punggye-ri and suspend its missile and nuclear weapons tests.
The Trump-Kim summit, set to take place late May or early June, follows Kim’s summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in late last month in which the pair pledged to usher in a new era of peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Continue reading here.