In Wee Hours, Trump Welcomes Home '3 Really Great People'

Three former prisoners arrived back in US from North Korea early Thursday
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2018 2:53 AM CDT
Trump Welcomes Back 3 Freed Americans
President Trump, center left, shakes hands with Kim Hak Song, with Tony Kim, far left, and Kim Dong Chul, center, three Americans detained in North Korea for over a year, as they arrive at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – A proud moment for President Trump: Trump, accompanied by Melania Trump, Mike Pence, and Karen Pence, was on hand to welcome three former prisoners back from North Korea at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington early Thursday, the AP reports. Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song, and Kim Sang Duk were released Wednesday after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with North Korean officials. The three men arrived at the base at 2:42am on a Boeing C-40 equipped with medical facilities and were taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for evaluation. "This is a special night for these three really great people," Trump said as he stood on the tarmac with them. He thanked Kim Jong Un and said the North Korean leader "really wants to do something" about denuclearization.

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The men "appear to be in good condition and were all able to walk on the plane without assistance," the State Department said in a statement after the release. When the plane stopped to refuel in Alaska, the three men released a statement thanking the US government, Trump, Pompeo, "and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return," adding: "God bless America, the greatest nation in the world." All three men had been serving sentences of at least a decade in labor camps, Newsweek reports. Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, and Kim Hak Song are university professors who were arrested a year ago and accused of trying to subvert the regime. Kim Dong Chul, a pastor, had been detained since October 2015. In 2016, he was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor for espionage. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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