10 Things to Know about North Korea

10. The good news: release of prisoners

The three Korean-American prisoners were released this week. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to North Korea to secure their release and they were met by President Trump as they flew into Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on May 9, 2018.

World Watch Monitor provides more information on the three Christian men:

Kim Dong-chul, a pastor in his early 60s, was arrested in 2015 and sentenced to 10 years’ hard labour after admitting spying for South Korea, which Seoul denied.

Tony Kim (also known as Kim Sang-duk) was detained in April 2017 for “committing criminal acts of hostility” against the North Korean government. Kim, in his 50s, had been involved in humanitarian work with orphanages and taught at the Pyongyang University for Science and Technology (PUST), which trains the children of North Korea’s elite and has a volunteer staff that includes many evangelical Christians.

Kim Hak Song was arrested two weeks later, in May 2017, as he prepared to leave the country after working for several weeks as a lecturer at PUST. He was arrested on charges of “hostile acts” against the regime. Reuters reported that in 2015, he had posted a message on the website of a Korean-Brazilian church in Sao Paulo, saying “he was a Christian missionary planning to start an experimental farm at PUST and was trying to help the North Korean people learn to become self-sufficient.”

Many have noted the significance of this prisoner release, not only for the individual men and their families, but for the rest of the world and the possible thawing of relations between North Korea and the world. We can only hope and pray that these overtures from Kim Jong-un are sincere, especially for the sake of the thousands of North Koreans who are still suffering persecution.

U.S. President Donald Trump walks with the three Americans just released from North Korea, Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim at Joint Base Andrews on May 9, 2018 in Maryland. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to North Korea and returned with the three men who have been detained in North Korea.

Photo courtesy: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Publication date: May 10, 2018

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