North Korea has released three US detainees in the country, according to media reports, and it meets some of President Donald Trump demands for Pyongyang to demonstrate sincerity before the historic meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Kim Dong-cheol, Kim Sang-deok, and Kim Hak-seong — three US citizens detained in North Korea for years — have been released from a suspected labor camp and given health treatment and ideological education in Pyongyang, according to the Washington Times.
“We heard it through our sources in North Korea late last month. 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,” said Choi Sung-ryong, who campaigns for the release of detainees in North Korea.
The news follows Trump’s hawkish National Security Adviser, John Bolton, calling for the release of the detainees. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly spoke with Kim about the detainees during the pair’s secretive meeting in April.
In June 2017, North Korea released another US detainee, Otto Warmbier, who died days after being released to his family in a coma. South Korea’s DongA website said that the US detainees may now be being coached to say that human rights abuses did not occur during North Korean custody.
North Korea operates a number of prison camps that have been compared to Auschwitz, a former Nazi prison camp in Poland.
If North Korea has released the detainees and is preparing to release them to the US, it represents another in a series of concessions Pyongyang has agreed to make.
Kim has time and time again committed himself to denuclearization and not called for the withdraw of US forces from the peninsula, nor has he demanded the US stop military drills with South Korea in exchange for a freeze in his nuclear and missile testing.
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