Americans woke up to good news on Wednesday morning. United States President Donald Trump announced that the three Americans that were being held hostage in North Korea were released and on their way back to US soil. In an early morning tweet, Trump said that newly-appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was currently in the air with the three former hostages on their way back home. Trump also assured citizens that the three men appeared to be in good health, a sentiment echoed by the official White House statement regarding the release. The travel party is set to arrive early Thursday morning at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Pompeo had traveled to North Korea to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in anticipation of the much talked about meeting between Jong Un and Trump, at a time and place yet to be announced.
Former hostage Kim Dong Chul had been in North Korean custody since before Trump was elected, after being arrested in 2015 for allegedly acting as a spy on behalf of South Korea. The other two hostages, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk (also known as Tony Kim), were arrested and held last spring, shortly after Trump took office. These two had been arrested by North Korean officials for alleged hostile acts against the communist regime. Both men were employed by the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, in the country’s capital city. Throughout it all, Hak-song and Kim’s loved ones have maintained that the men were innocent.
Trump had taken the opportunity in recent days to foreshadow the release of the hostages. Political experts believe that the release of the hostages is a precursor to the meetings between Trump and Jong Un, with some officials stating that the release is a definitive goodwill gesture in the days leading up to the summit.