American Prisoners Are On Their Way Home, But South Korea Is Still Trying To Free Six Of Its People From Kim Jong Un’s Clutches

Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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North Korea freed three American citizens Wednesday, but six South Koreans are still being held hostage by the regime, despite calls by the South Korean government for their release.

President Donald Trump, who has yet to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un or make concessions, announced on Twitter Wednesday that the three American prisoners previously held in North Korea are now on their way home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met with North Korean leadership and requested their release from prison.

The three prisoners released Wednesday include Kim Dong-Chul, Kim Hak-Song and Kim Sang-Duk (Tony Kim).

South Korea, however, is still fighting to secure the release of six South Korean citizens, even though liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in requested that Kim Jong Un free them when the two leaders met at the inter-Korean summit on April 27, according to NK News.

“At the South-North summit with chairman of State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un in Panmunjom on 27th last month, President Moon Jae-in requested chairman Kim for the swift repatriation of six South Koreans detained in North Korea,” Presidential Secretary Yoon Young-chan said Wednesday.

“We hope for the expeditious reparation of our detained citizens in the sense of spreading reconciliation between the South and the North and the atmosphere of a spring of peace that has begun to be created on the Korean peninsula,” the spokesman added.

“Our government has worked to resolve the detainee issue through inter-Korean talks and cooperation with the international community, and it will continue to make active efforts to bring back those detainees as soon as possible,” Ministry of Unification spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said Wednesday, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Among the South Korean prisoners are three Christian missionaries who were sentenced to hard labor in North Korea for their crimes. Details on the other prisoners are few.

The White House called North Korea’s prisoner release a “gesture of goodwill.” It remains unclear whether Pyongyang is inclined to do the same for South Korea, with which it is trying to cultivate a more peaceful bilateral relationship.

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