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North Korea Releases 3 Americans As Pompeo’s Visit Concludes

The former captives will arrive back in the U.S. early Thursday – and President Trump says he will meet them at the airport.

North Korea has released three American citizens it had been holding captive. Here, South Koreans on Wednesday watch a TV report about U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to North Korea.

North Korea has released three Americans it had been holding captive, in a deal that emerged as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ended his visit to the isolated country. They will arrive back in the U.S. early Thursday – and President Trump says he will meet the group at the airport.

The released Americans are believed to be: Kim Dong Chul, who was arrested in 2015; Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-duk, a teacher who was detained in April 2017; and Kim Hak-song, also known as Jin Xue Song, whose detention was announced shortly after Kim Sang-duk’s.

Talk of the captives’ release had increased as the U.S. and North Korea’s regime engaged in rare talks — and worked to arrange a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un. The president said Pompeo has worked out the place and time of the summit, in talks with North Korean officials.

Trump confirmed their release in a tweet on Wednesday morning, saying the group was airborne.

“I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea,” Trump wrote, “with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health.”

For Pompeo, this was the second surprise trip to North Korea in recent weeks, having traveled to the country to visit Kim Jong Un in early April while he was CIA director — and before his confirmation as secretary of state.

On Wednesday morning, Trump said that “Pompeo and his ‘guests’ will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:00 A.M. in the morning. I will be there to greet them. Very exciting!”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

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