It was originally reported on April 30th, 2018, that Kim Jong-un had moved three U.S. nationals (w/ South Korean ancestry) from labor camps to Pyongyang where they were undergoing medical treatment, rehabilitation and rest in advance of a plan to be released.
Those initial reports are now being confirmed by alternate media sources. The original report from inside the DPRK stated they were “reportedly being prepared to be released to US authorities either prior to or on the day of the US-North Korea summit”; and the captives were being debriefed (“coached” or “indoctrinated”) to tell authorities their human rights were not violated during their stay in the DPRK.
(left to right) Kim Dong Chul, Kim Sang Duk, Kim Hak Soon
Kim Dong Chul, Kim Sang Duk, Kim Hak Soon are the names of the three hostages being released. Two of the captives, Hak-Soon and Sang Duk, belong to the Pyongyang Univ of Science & Technology and were taken in in Apr & May 2017: they’ve been held for a year. The third, Kim Dong Chul, is an ordained minister taken in 2015 when he was commuting to Rason from China and and has been serving a 10-year sentence on espionage charges.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo specifically requested their release while visiting Pyongyang on Easter weekend. The three are US citizens with Korean heritage. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Fox News Sunday that North Korea could show its sincerity by releasing US hostages prior to the summit.
In March of this year Sweden was initially playing a large role and helping negotiate the terms of the North-South Korea summit as well as the release of three Americans held captive in North Korea.
“We believe that Mr. Trump can take them back on the day of the U.S.-North Korea summit, or he can send an envoy to take them back to the U.S. before the summit,” said Choi Sung-ryong, an activist pursuing release of North Korea’s political prisoners.