Three Americans Held by North Korea Return Home


by Sharon Rondeau

Screenshot from official White House video of U.S. hostages’ arrival at Joint Base Andrews, May 10, 2018

(May 10, 2018) — A video released at approximately 6:00 AM on Thursday depicts the arrival at Joint Base Andrews of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and three American former hostages of the North Korean regime.

On Wenesday, Pompeo met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, after which it was reported the three hostages were freed and accompanied Pompeo out of the hermit country.

The first stop was at a U.S. military base in Japan for refueling, while the second was in Anchorage, AK overnight.

The final leg of the journey brought them to JBA, located in Prince George’s County, MD, at approximately 3:00 AM Thursday.

JBA’s website states that the military installation, formerly known as Andrews Air Force Base and now combined with a Navy base, has “been the scene of many joyful returns and reunions. Among the many occasions, Andrews welcomed the first prisoners of war back from Vietnam in 1973, saw the return of the U.S. hostages from Iran in 1981, and welcomed former POW Pfc. Jessica Lynch home from Iraq in 2003.”

As Pompeo had described in a press availability on route out of North Korea to Japan, the three Americans, Kim Hak-Song, Tony Kim, and Kim Dong-Chul, held between one and 2 1/2 years, were ambulating on their own and appeared to be in reasonably good condition. They are now reportedly being evaluated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

Pompeo’s meeting on Wednesday with Jong-Un was the second in a six-week period intended to pave the way for a face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.  Less than a year ago, Jong-Un was threatening ts Southeast Asia neighbors, the U.S. and the world with the specter of a nuclear attack from long-range missiles it has been developing over at least the last quarter-century.

As the three former hostages walked down the steps from the aircraft which brought them home, First Lady Melania Trump was seen broadly smiling, and her husband shook their hands. Two held up “peace” signs with both hands as they descended the stairs onto the tarmac.

Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence also attended the welcoming of the three Americans, at least one of whom said he was required to perform “hard labor” during his captivity.

On Wednesday night, a foreign-policy expert told FNC’s Sean Hannity that there remain between 150,000 and 200,000 political prisoners in North Korea’s prison camps, a claim confirmed by other sources. As recently as last October, The Washington Post detailed the reported horrendous conditions from survivors and researchers of the “reeducation camps.”

In remarks delivered with the former hostages by his side, Trump expressed his appreciation to Jong-Un for releasing the three men ahead of the planned “summit” now said to be scheduled for “early June” in the nation of Singapore, according to Fox News on Thursday. While expressing joy at the captives’ freedom, Trump also recognized the family of the late Otto Warmbier, also held captive by the North Korean regime for more than a year and freed last June, only to return in what was said to be a comatose state from which he passed away six days later.

Warmbier, the eldest of three children and a former student at the University of Virginia, was 22.

Trump said that his goal in dealing with North Korea is to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a feat several of his predecessors wanted but were unable to achieve.

On Wednesday, the recovered hostages issued a joint statement through the US State Department which reads:

We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home. We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return. God Bless America, the greatest nation in the world.

While the majority of the mainstream media have reported the former hostages’ return to U.S. soil, including The New York Times, CNN does not appear to have issued an article on the development as of this writing.

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