Meet the last 3 Americans detained by North Korea who were just released

  • The Trump administration just secured the release of the last three American detainees in North Korea, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter on Wednesday.
  • Pyongyang seemingly agreed to their release in relation to an impending summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump regarding the rogue state’s nuclear program.
  • The three men – Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song, and Kim Sang-duk – were the last Americans being held by the reclusive nation.

The Trump administration just secured the release of the last three American detainees in North Korea, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter on Wednesday.

“I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting,” Trump tweeted.

The president added the three individuals seemed to be in “good health.”

Pyongyang seemingly agreed to their release in relation to an impending summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Trump regarding the rogue state’s nuclear program. In his tweet on Wednesday, Trump said the date and place for the summit have been set.

Trump on Tuesday revealed Pompeo had travelled to North Korea while announcing his decision to withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal.

The three men – Kim Dong-chul, Kim Hak-song, and Kim Sang-duk – are the last Americans being held by the reclusive nation. They were reportedly held in a labour camp.

North Korea has detained a number of foreigners over the years, often for vague and dubious reasons.

The story of Otto Warmbier is perhaps the most infamous instance of an American being detained in North Korea. The 22-year-old student was detained for 17 months in North Korea and was returned to the US with “severe brain damage and in a nonresponsive state” in June 2017. He died June 19, 2017.

Warmbier’s parents recently filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the North Korean government, which could complicate recent diplomatic developments between the US and Kim’s regime.

Here are the three US citizens North Korea just released:


Kim Dong-chul.

Kim Dong-chul was reportedly arrested in October 2015 and has been held the longest of the three Americans.

He was convicted of espionage, after reportedly apologizing, during a press conference organised by North Korea, for attempting to steal military secrets for South Korea. He was sentenced to 10 years’ hard labour.

Kim was born in South Korea and formerly lived in Fairfax, Virginia. At the time of his arrest, he was living in Rason, North Korea, running a trading and hotel-services company.

Kim reportedly has a wife and two daughters living in China, but he’s been unable to contact them while a prisoner in North Korea. He’s in his early 60s, having identified himself as 62 in a CNN interview in January 2016.


Kim Hak-song.

Kim Hak-song was arrested in May 2017 and accused of committing “hostile acts” against the state. Before his detention, he worked in agricultural development at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

Kim is ethnically Korean but was born in China near the North Korean border. He came to the US in the 1990s, studied in California, and became a US citizen. Many details about Kim, including his age, remain elusive.


Kim Sang-duk, aka Tony Kim.

Kim Sang-duk, aka Tony Kim, was born in South Korea but became a naturalized US citizen.

Kim, 59, was detained in North Korea in April 2017 while attempting to leave the country at the airport in the North Korean capital. He was accused of “hostile criminal acts with an aim to subvert the country.”

Before his arrest, Kim had spent a month working at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. He taught accounting at Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China before heading to Pyongyang.

Kim had reportedly made several trips to North Korea to do humanitarian work.

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