FILE – In this March 7, 2018, file photo, people watch a TV screen showing images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, and U.S. President Donald Trump at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has always wanted to lead the diplomacy aimed at ending the North Korean nuclear crisis, even as he was overshadowed in his first year in office by a belligerent standoff between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. Korean letters on the screen read: “Thawing Korean Peninsula.” (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)
North Korea has announced that it is releasing three US citizens who have been detained in that country:
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 Financial 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.
Every taunt back and forth between Trump and Kim Jong Un makes deescalation and diplomacy less possible.
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) September 22, 2017
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Kim Dong Chul was detained in October 2015 and charged with espionage. Kim Sang-duk (aka Tony Kim) was detained in April 2017 and charged with committing “hostile criminal acts with an aim to subvert the country” Kim Hak-song was detained in May 2017 and charged with committing “hostile acts” against the state.
To be clear, the men are not out of North Korea yet. But they are out of a labor camp and presumably North Korea wants them looking relatively healthy when they are repatriated.
More and more signals are being sent that North Korea sees its path to survival being dependent upon creating a modus vivendi with the United States that does not involve nuclear weapons. Thus far there have been progressively encouraging signs of good faith on the part of North Korea. It has said that it is shuttering its nuclear testing facility–which may be due to structural collapse as well as policy decisions.
North Korea starts pulling cables from tunnels at nuclear test site – CBS News https://t.co/B3vuDPReI9
— Dr. Mark P. Barry (@DrMarkPBarry) May 2, 2018
It hasn’t launched a missile in over five months. North Korea’s Kim met with South Korea’s Moon and they both crossed into the other’s country.
And the Administration has given up nothing to get these men released:
During #NorthKorea Freedom Week, we must not forget the millions in #DPRK who continue to suffer under one of the most repressive & abusive gov'ts in the world. In tandem w/ maximum pressure campaign, we will continue to press for accountability for those responsible. #NKFW2018 pic.twitter.com/vIjLC2DQDw
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) May 2, 2018
This, of course, is horrible news for the left. They are unhappy because their entire theory of how to deal with North Korea is melting down before their very eyes.
— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) May 2, 2018
— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) May 2, 2018
I’d submit that being out of a North Korean labor camp and in a North Korean hotel is a huge step up in Maslow’s Hierarchy.
But no matter what happens, it looks like three Americans will be coming home and that is welcome news.