Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has announced that North Korea is expected to release three U.S. prisoners from their detention camps. The release was described to be “imminent” according to CNN. Additionally, the three prisoners have reportedly been moved to a hotel, which indicates that North Korea is indeed preparing to release the three men, according to Fox News.
The North Korean detention camps have treated past prisoners horribly. The most recent release of an American prisoner by North Korea of Otto F. Warmbier ended in tragedy, as he died shortly after his release in June 2017. Warmbier’s family alleged that torture and hard labor are just some of the consequences of being a prisoner in North Korea.
The three men who are expected to be released are Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim, and Kim Hak-Song. They are all American citizens. Chul has been detained since October 2015, Kim since April 2017, and Hak-Song since May 2017.
Kim Dong Chul, a businessman, was arrested for spying on the North Korean regime for the South Koreans, according to the New York Times. He was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor, and even confessed his attempt to steal military secrets for South Korea during a state-led news conference. Some believe that Dong-chul was under pressure from North Korea to make his confession. Meanwhile, South Korea says they were not involved.
Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song were both working in North Korea’s Pyongyang University of Science and Technology as educators when they were arrested for “hostile acts” against the regime. Tony Kim was on his way out of North Korea, about to board a plane to leave after teaching at the university for a month. Allegedly, Kim had been “helping out an orphanage” among other unsanctioned activities. His wife is North Korean.
Kim Hak-song’ wife said that her husband was trying to help North Koreans by teaching them how to grow rice. Hak-song was arrested during a trip to a research farm. He was born in China, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s and became a citizen.
If North Korea does release the prisoners as expected, it would set a good precedence for the upcoming Trump-Kim meeting. This would be the second round of U.S. prisoners from North Korea released under the Trump administration. The well-being and health status of the three prisoners are still unknown.