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3 American Christians Held in North Korean Prison Could Soon Be Released

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Three American Christians detained in North Korea have reportedly been moved from a labor camp to a hotel on the outskirts of the capital city Pyongyang.

Sources inside the Department of Defense told CBN News, Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Hak-song were all moved from a labor camp early last month.

Sources say they are being given health care and are resting.

President Donald Trump tweeted about their potential release Wednesday evening on Twitter. 

"As everybody is aware, the past Administration has long been asking for three hostages to be released from a North Korean Labor camp, but to no avail. Stay tuned!" Trump said.

Activists campaigning on the men's behalf say the move is a goodwill gesture ahead of the planned summit between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un next month.

"We heard it through our sources in North Korea late last month, said Choi Sung-ryong, a leading activist. "We believe that Mr. Trump can take them back on the day of the US-North Korea summit or he can send an envoy to take them back to the US before the summit."

Tony Kim, also known by his Korean name Kim Sang Duk, was arrested on April 22, 2017, just before boarding a plane for a flight back to the United States.

"My father had just finished his semester as a professor in North Korea when he was arrested at the airport," said Kim's eldest son, Sol, in a YouTube video, posted several months ago.

Kim was a professor at Pyongyang University for Science and Technology (PUST), the country's only privately-run academic institution.

"My mom, brother and I miss our dad so much," Kim's son said in that video.

A month later, another Christian professor from PUST, Kim Hak Song, was also arrested.

Both were arrested on suspicion of "hostile acts."

A third person, Kim Dong Chul, a Korean-American missionary, was arrested in October 2015 and sentenced in March 2016 to 10 years of hard labor for subversion.

President Trump's national security adviser said earlier this week that releasing the three Americans would demonstrate North Korea's sincerity in the run-up to a historic summit between the two leaders.

"If North Korea releases the detained Americans before the North-US summit, it will be an opportunity to demonstrate their authenticity," John Bolton, Trump's national security advisor, told Fox News.

President Trump confirmed last week that his administration was in high-level talks with North Korea to secure the release of the Americans.

"We are likewise fighting very diligently to get the three American citizens back," Trump said at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in April. "I think there's a good chance of doing it. We're having very good dialogue."

America's top diplomat Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also reportedly brought up the plight of the Christians when he secretly met with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un over the Easter weekend.

Meanwhile, President Trump says he'll soon announce a location and date for his meeting with North Korea's dictator.

"We're setting up meetings right now and I think it's probably going to be announced over the next couple of days, location, and date," Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday.

The two leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of issues at the summit, including North Korea's promise to end its nuclear testing and eventually give up its atomic weapons.

"The main thing, we want to get peace," Trump said. "It was a big problem, and I think it's going to work out."


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About The Author

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Born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and of Indian descent, CBN News’ Senior International Correspondent and Co-Anchor, George Thomas, has been traveling the globe for more than 20 years, finding the stories of people, conflicts, and issues that must be told. He has reported from more than 100 countries and has had a front-row seat to numerous global events of our day. George’s stories of faith, struggle, and hope combine the expertise of a seasoned journalist with the inspiration of a deep calling to tell the stories of the people behind the news. “I’ve always liked discovering & exploring new