The parents of one of the three Christian American prisoners who were released from a North Korean prison today have issued a statement, thanking both President Trump and the Lord for their son’s safe passage back to the United States.
Earlier today, Trump tweeted, “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting.”
The release is the latest in an astonishing series of foreign policy achievements under the Trump administration.
The family of Tony Kim, who was detained last April after spending some time teaching at the Christian-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), thanked President Trump for “engaging directly with North Korea.”
“We appreciate all of the support and prayers of friends and even strangers during this challenging year,” the family continued in its statement. “You are dear to our hearts. We ask that you continue to pray for the people of North Korea and for the release of all who are still being held. Thank you.”
Tony Kim's family has issued a statement: "We…want to thank the President for engaging directly with N. Korea. Mostly, we thank God for Tony’s safe return." pic.twitter.com/OsCpdschV6
— Jonathan Cheng (@JChengWSJ) May 9, 2018
Speaking again to CNN this week, Kim’s son Sol revealed that he and his wife are expecting a baby in July. At this point, Kim has absolutely no idea he will become a grandfather shortly after setting foot on American soil.
The three prisoners are set to touch down at Andrew’s Airforce Base at 2 a.m. Thursday morning, with President Trump expected to greet them as they step off the aircraft.
According to the Washington Post, upon arriving in North Korea yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told North Korean officials that their country can “have all the opportunities your people so richly deserve,” so long as they stick to their newly agreed decision to denuclearize. Pompeo was in the DPRK to finalize the arrangements for President Trump’s upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“For decades, we have been adversaries,” Pompeo told Kim Yong Chol, who was previously sanctioned by the U.S. for his involvement in the North Korean nuclear program. “Now we are hopeful that we can work together to resolve this conflict, take away threats to the world and make your country have all the opportunities your people so richly deserve.”
“There are many challenges along the way,” Pompeo added. “But you have been a great partner in working to make sure our two leaders will have a summit that is successful.”
Despite the incredible shift in relations — just last summer, Trump and Jong-un were threatening each other with nuclear attack — Vice President Mike Pence took a more cautious approach in his statement on the prisoners’ release.
“While our administration is encouraged that North Korea freed these innocent hostages, we will not let off the pressure until we achieve full denuclearization,” Pence said. “Our Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did a remarkable job overseeing the release of Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim, and Kim Hak Song – and to them I say: safe travels and welcome home. This is a proud and memorable moment for America.”
In a tweet Wednesday, Vice President Pence said that he had spoken to Pompeo during a stop-off in Japan.
Just got off the phone with @SecPompeo, whose plane is on the ground in Japan with the 3 freed Americans. Thankfully, all seem to be in good health and glad to be heading home to the U.S. @POTUS and I are eager to welcome them home this evening at Joint Base Andrews #USA
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 9, 2018
“Just got off the phone with Sec. Pompeo, whose plane is on the ground in Japan with the 3 freed Americans. Thankfully, all seem to be in good health and glad to be heading home to the U.S. POTUS and I are eager to welcome them home this evening at Joint Base Andrews.”
According to the New York Times, South Korea greatly welcomed the release, with Yoon Young-chan, a spokesman for President Moon Jae-in, saying that it was “very positive for a successful North Korean-United States summit.”
Former prisoners Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song were all being held on charges of committing espionage against the North Korean state. Other reports indicate that all were actually imprisoned for sharing their Christian faith, which is still illegal in the oppressive communist nation.
“We certainly would see this as a sign of goodwill if North Korea were to release the three Americans ahead of discussions between President Trump and Kim Jong Un,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said prior to the release.
President Trump is set to meet with North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in early June, according to Fox News.