Three U.S. citizens that were just freed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) arrived in Washington early Thursday, as the two countries saw their ties warm up in recent weeks.
A plane carrying the three U.S. detainees arrived at Joint Base Andrews shortly before 3 a.m. local time (0700 GMT), minutes after another plane carrying Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who helped bring the detainees back, landed.
The three detainees, named Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim, Kim Dong-chul, are all U.S. citizens of Korean descent. They were arrested by DPRK authorities in 2015 and 2017 on different charges.Pompeo, who has visited Pyongyang twice in recent weeks to pave the way for an upcoming meeting between DPRK top leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, secured their release Wednesday.
To fully capitalize on the diplomatic success, Trump and other senior government officials greeted the detainees at the airport in a carefully choreographed ceremony. A giant U.S. flag was hoisted by two fire trucks in the background. After the planes landed, Trump stepped on board for a brief greeting before emerging alongside the detainees. Missing from the ceremony however, were the relatives of the detainees.”This must have broken your ratings records at three in the morning,” Trump told reporters there.
The detainees will be taken to a nearby hospital for further check-ups.U.S.-DPRK ties have taken a drastic turn in recent weeks, as both countries replaced fiery rhetoric with friendlier gestures. Trump and Kim are expected to conduct a historic meeting late May or in June. Trump said that the date and location has been decided and will be announced soon.