A South Korean activist said three Americans held by North Korea have been transferred from a labor camp to a hotel outside Pyongyang in anticipation of a summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump.
Citing information from a Pyongyang resident, Choi Sung-yong, who works with families of abducted South Koreans, reported that the prisoners were moved about a month ago, said Yonhap news agency.
Kim Dong Chul, a businessman and naturalized U.S. citizen who previously lived in Fairfax, Va., was arrested in North Korea’s special economic zone in October 2015 and accused of spying for the South Koreans, which Seoul denied. In a forced confession, Kim said he was guilty of espionage and spreading Christianity. Kim, 64, was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor.
Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-duk, 59, was a professor at China’s Yanbian University of Science and Technology who had been visiting to teach at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, the only private college in the country with a sizable foreign staff, for a period of several weeks. Kim had also been a humanitarian aid worker in North Korea and helped deliver critical foreign aid to regions devastated by 2016 floods. He and his wife were arrested in April as they tried to fly out of the country; she was released while he was detained and accused of committing hostile acts.
Kim Hak-Song, 55, was working in agricultural development at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, managing experimental research to address the country’s food shortage. He was arrested in May. Like Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim and former hostage Kenneth Bae, Kim Hak-Song is a Christian.
Trump said Tuesday that he expected the location of his meeting with Kim to be revealed in a “couple of days.”
While possible sites for a neutral-ground meeting between the two have included Mongolia and Singapore, Trump has appeared this week to be angling for a meeting in the Korean demilitarized zone.
“There’s something that I like about it because you’re there, you’re actually there. Where, if things work out, there’s a great celebration to be had on the site, not in a third-party country,” Trump told reporters Monday. “It has the chance to be a big event.”
North Korea faces a wrongful death lawsuit filed last month by the family of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student held hostage by the Kim regime and returned to the United States just days before he passed away from the effects of brutal torture.
The lawsuit states that when Otto was returned to the airport in Cincinnati last year, his parents were “stunned to see his condition.”
“Otto was blind and deaf. He had a shaved head, a feeding tube coming out of his nose, was jerking violently and howling, and was completely unresponsive to any of their efforts to comfort him,” the lawsuit states. “They also noticed that his once straight teeth were now misaligned and had been forced into abnormal positions, particularly in the front of his mouth.”