Released american prisoners from DPRK greeted by Trump

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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk with former North Korean detainees Tony Kim, third from left, Kim Hak Song, and Kim Dong Chul, third from right, and others, upon their arrival, Thursday, May 10, 2018, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Three American citizens are back on U.S. soil after being released from detention by Kim Jong Un, the DPRK leader. U.S. President Donald Trump greeted the men in the middle of the night at a U.S. airbase outside Washington D.C.
CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

The White House released a highly-produced video showing Trump greeting the released prisoners. It was a well-choreographed, made-for-TV moment marking what Trump hopes will be a historic shift in U.S.-DPRK relations that could help pave the way to a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

“I’m very honored to work to have helped the three folks. They are great people. You know I got to speak to them on the plane. These are great people. They’ve been through a lot but it’s a great honor. But, the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons,” Trump said on the tarmac at Joint base Andrews.

The released prisoners all appear to be in good health.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, back, shakes hands with former North Korean detainees Kim Dong Chul, with Kim Hak Song, upon their arrival, Thursday, May 10, 2018, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang-duk (who also goes by Tony Kim) were detained separately in the spring of 2017 for unspecified “hostile acts” against the DPRK. Both taught at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. Kim Sang-duk’s son said it has been an agonizing year waiting for his father’s released.

“Yeah, it’s very stressful. I think as time goes, I think it slowly wears you down more, starts to feel heavier… The last few steps for him to be released seem to be going a lot slower than maybe the first year or the whole year,” said Sol Kim.

The DPRK arrested Kim Dong-chul for spying, and sentenced him to 10 years hard labor. Reporters asked him how he was treated while a prisoner.

“We were treated in many different ways. For me, I had to do a lot of labor, but when I got sick, I was also treated by them,” said Kim through a translator. He spoke in Korean.

Trump praised DPRK leader Kim Jong Un for granting amnesty to the three men and said the two countries are now poised to make progress in normalizing relations.

“I really think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful. And if anybody would have said five years ago, 10 years ago, even a year ago you would have said that’s not possible,” said Trump.

A few hours after greeting the released prisoners President Trump confirmed that he will meet with Kim Jong Un on June 12th in Singapore. The DPRK news agency KCNA reports that the two sides had reached “satisfactory consensus” on the issues to be discussed at the summit.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the summit is scheduled for a single day, but if it is going well it is possible the summit may continue a second day.

Sourabh Gupta discusses possible scenarios for the Trump-Kim summit

CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke to Sourabh Gupta for his take on the news of the Trump-Kim summit’s time and location. Gupta is a Senior Asia-Pacific International Relations Policy Specialist.