Trump reveals he will meet Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12

BREAKING NEWS: Trump reveals he will meet Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12

  • With the three Americans imprisoned in North Korea back on U.S. soil, Trump announced the date and location of his summit with Kim Jong-un
  • Kim Dong-chul, Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim were greeted as heroes in the U.S. on Thursday morning
  • Donald and Melania Trump personally met with them after their plane from Pyongyang arrived at 2:00 a.m.
  • The president said: ‘These are great people. Frankly, we didn’t think this was going to happen, but it did’ 
  • He said he appreciated the gesture from Kim and thanked the North Korean dictator for releasing them 

Donald Trump says he will meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore.

Trump revealed the date and location of their much-anticipated meet-up on Twitter on after witnessing the safe return from North Korea of three American detainees in wee hours of Thursday morning.

‘We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!’ Trump said of the meeting with Kim where he hopes to negotiate the denulcearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Trump this morning said in remarks at Joint Base Andrews that he will consider a nuclear agreement with North Korea his ‘proudest achievement’ if he’s able to broker an accord with Kim.

‘This is what people have been waiting for for a long time. Nobody thought we could be on this track in terms of speed,’ Trump said of nuclear summit with Kim that he said would be announced in short order now that the detainees were home. 

‘I’m very honored to have helped the three folks. They’re great people,’ he said. ‘It’s a great honor. But the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons.’  

Donald Trump says he will meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore

Trump welcomed the Americans back to the U.S. with words most observers thought no American president would ever utter: ‘We want to thank Kim Jong Un.’

The president and his wife Melania arrived at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington at 2:00 a.m. to greet Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, and called them ‘incredible people.’

In extraordinary scenes, Trump and the first lady clapped and cheered as the men walked down the steps with their arms in the air and giving triumphant ‘V’ signs signifying both peace and victory. 

Their first steps back on American soil came hours earlier, in Alaska, when the plane carrying them home stopped to refuel. 

On the tarmac in suburban Maryland, Trump said: ‘These are great people. Frankly, we didn’t think this was going to happen, but it did. It was important to get these people out. This is a special night for these three really great people.’ 

Trump also thanked Kim Jong-un for freeing ‘the folks early.’ calling it ‘a wonderful thing’ and adding he believes the North Korean despot ‘really wants to do something’ and bring the hermit kingdom ‘into the real world.’

He said: ‘We’re starting off on a new footing. I really think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful, and if anybody would’ve said that five years ago, 10 years ago, even a year ago, you would’ve said, ‘That’s not possible.’

‘My proudest achievement will be when we denuclearize that entire [Korean] peninsula,’ he added. 

The freed trio were joined by a translator who relayed their sentiment that being home felt ‘like a dream’ and that the men were ‘very, very happy’ to be freed. They later gave President Trump a round of applause.

Kim Dong-chul, speaking about his time in North Korea, said: ‘We were treated in many different ways. For me, I had to do a lot of labor. But when I got sick, I was also treated by them.’  

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Donald Trump and Melania welcomed three Americans imprisoned in North Korea back to America to cheers and applause

Trump shook hands with former detainee Kim Dong-chul (center) upon his return with Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim (both behind) in extraordinary scenes

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, warmly embraced former North Korean detainee Tony Kim upon tthe plane’s 2:00 a.m. arrival at a Maryland air base

The prisoners walked onto American soil with their arms in the air giving triumphant ‘V’ signs signifying peace and victory

Trump called the prisoners ‘wonderful people’ and thanked Kim Jong-un for letting them come home ahead of the Trump-Kim summit

Trump also thanked the North Korean dictator for freeing ‘the folks early,’ calling it ‘a wonderful thing’ and adding that he believes Kim finally wants to bring his country ‘into the real world’

President Trump, first lady Melania and Vice President Mike Pence walked with the freed Americans after they landed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland

A giant American flag flew between two Maryland fire trucks as the plane landed, giving the men a heroes’ welcome after the president had promised the world there would be ‘quite a scene’ when they arrived.

The three men were released Wednesday after up to three years of imprisonment and hard labor when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Pyongyang following a meeting with Kim to formalize final plans for a Trump-Kim summit in late May or early June.

He added that the talks between his administration and the North Korean government have ‘never been taken this far.’

While Trump said North Korea’s Kim Jong Un ‘was excellent to these three incredible people,’ Vice President Mike Pence hinted in an ABC interview they had endured harsh conditions.

Pence said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told him that at a refueling stop in Anchorage, ‘one of the detainees asked to go outside the plane because he hadn’t seen daylight in a very long time.’ 

Who are the Americans freed by North Korea today?

Kim Dong Chul

Kim Dong Chul is pictured in tears while he was held by North Korea in 2016

A naturalized U.S. citizen born in South Korea, Kim Dong Chul was seized in North Korea on October 2, 2015 and accused of spying.

Though a resident of Virginia – he became an American citizen in 1987 – Kim had lived with his wife in Yanji, China since 2001.

He worked just across the North Korean border in the Rason-Sonbong special economic zone, where he ran a hotel services company. He was also a pastor.

Very little was known about his status until a CNN news crew interviewed him during their visit to Pyongyang in January 2016. 

He told reporters during a news conference organized by the dictatorship two months later that he was a spy, explaining that he ‘apologized for trying to steal military secrets in collusion with South Koreans’ and called his own actions ‘unpardonable.’

The North accused him of receiving a USB drive and various papers containing nuclear secrets during a meeting with a defector from the regime.

After a one-day trial in April, he was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor for his supposed espionage. 

But previous victims of the regime have explained that they were forced to make similar public declarations of their guilt after being tortured, despite being innocent.

Kim Hak-song 

Kim, who is in his mid 50s, was born in Jilin, China, and educated at a university in California

Kim Hak-song, also known as Jin Xue Song, had been working for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), undertaking agricultural development work with the school’s farm.

He was arrested at a Pyongyang railway station in May 2017 on suspicion of committing ‘hostile acts’ against the government, as he was boarding a train headed for his home in Dandong, China.

Kim, who is in his mid 50s, was born in Jilin, China, and educated at a university in California, CNN reported, citing a man who had studied with him. 

He said Kim returned to China after about 10 years of living in the U.S., where he is a citizen.

PUST was founded by evangelical Christians overseas and opened in 2010, and is known to have a number of American faculty members.

Pupils are generally children from among the North’s elite.   

It is not known whether Kim was sentenced for his supposed ‘hostile acts.’

Kim Sang-duk

Kim is a former professor at Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China, close to the Korean border

Korean-American Kim Sang-duk – known as  Tony Kim – was arrested in April 2017 at Pyongyang’s main airport as he tried to leave the country after teaching for several weeks as a guest lecturer, also at PUST.

Kim is a former professor at Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China, close to the Korean border. 

Its website lists his speciality as accounting.

He graduated from the University of California Riverside in 1990 with a master’s degree in business administration.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has reported Kim as being in his late 50s and said he had been involved in relief activities for children in rural parts of North Korea. 

It cited a source who described him as a ‘religiously devoted man.’

He was detained with his wife at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang on April 22, 2017 while waiting for a flight.

Police later arrested Kim but did not explain why. His wife was allowed to leave the country.

PUST said the arrest was not related to his work at the university.   

In a Facebook post, Kim’s son had said that his family has had no contact with him since his arrest. 

Kim will soon become a grandfather.   

Trump said he will not disclose whether he will have any personal conversations with Kim as they prepare for their historic summit in the coming weeks.

But he did admit it was possible that ‘one day’ he may visit Pyongyang, should peace talks continue to go well. 

The three former detainees were taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for evaluation and medical treatment before being reunited with their families. 

Singapore is the likely site for the historic meeting between the U.S. President and North Korea’s dictator. The summit could last up to two days.

When asked if the talks will lead to prolonged peace, the president said: ‘We’ll see how it all works out. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but it can be a great thing for North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the entire world. We hope it all works out.’

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    President Donald Trump tweeted after the reception to say: ‘On behalf of the American people, WELCOME HOME!’ A video showing the welcome was attached 

    In usual Trumpian fashion, the president also joked with reporters, saying: ‘I think you probably broke the all-time-in-history television rating for 3 o’clock in the morning.’

    The highly public display stood in stark contrast to the low-key private reception the State Department had envisioned, and in keeping with a tradition of trying to protect potentially traumatized victims from being thrust into the spotlight so soon after their ordeal.

    Department officials took great pains on the prisoners’ release in North Korea, as well as on their flights to Japan and Alaska, to keep them sequestered not only from the two journalists traveling with Pompeo but also from staffers not immediately involved in their cases. 

    The trio, along with medical personnel, including a psychiatrist, were cloistered in the middle of Pompeo’s plane in a small section of 12 business class-size seats that was cordoned off by curtains on both ends. 

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      President Donald Trump greets the freed Americans aboard their plane after they landed in Maryland. The image is from a video posted by Trump on Twitter 

      State Department officials refused to discuss anything but the most basic details of their conditions, citing privacy concerns in keeping with the minimal amount of information they had released since the men were imprisoned. 

      The Americans had boarded Pompeo’s plane out of North Korea without assistance and then transferred in Japan to the Boeing C-40 outfitted with medical facilities for the trip back to the US.

      Shortly after they touched down on American soil in Alaska – for a refueling stop Wednesday afternoon – the State Department released a statement from the freed men.

      ‘We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home,’ they said. ‘We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return. God Bless America, the greatest nation in the world.’ 

      The family of Tony Kim also voiced gratitude to ‘all of those who have worked toward and contributed to his return home’ – and specifically thanked Trump for ‘engaging directly with North Korea.’ 

      The release of the three men was only sealed about an hour before the secretary of state left the North Korean capital.

      They walked on their own from a van and onto the plane, the culmination of Pompeo’s 12-hour visit to the North Korean capital, which included a 90-minute meeting with leader Kim Jong Un.

      Returning to his hotel from that meeting, Mr Pompeo had given reporters a fingers-crossed sign when asked if there was good news about the detainees. 

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        The president and his wife Melania are waiting at Joint Base Andrews near Washington to meet Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim

        President Donald Trump stands with Americans just released from North Korea, Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands nearby, at Joint Base Andrews early this morning

        President Donald Trump greets the Americans formerly held hostage in North Korea upon their arrival at Joint Base Andrews as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on 

        America’s commander-in-chief salutes as he was met by members of the U.S. Armed Forces in the wee hours of Thursday morning

        President Donald Trump arrives to greet the three Americans formerly held hostage in North Korea, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland

        The president and the first lady left the White House at 2:00 a.m. to make the short journey to Andrews

        Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence (together at center) arrive to greet the three Americans formerly held hostage in North Korea

        President Donald Trump talks to the media next to the Americans formerly held hostage in North Korea, upon their arrival at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland

        President Trump promised ‘quite a show’ as North Korea released three American prisoners who have been flown to the US

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          A North Korean official came to the hotel shortly after to inform Pompeo that Kim had granted amnesties to the three and that they would be released at 7:00 p.m. local time, according to a senior U.S. official present for the exchange.

          Carl Risch, the assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, and a doctor went to another hotel to pick up the men and bring them to the airport, the official said.

          They finally left custody at 7.45 p.m., and by 8.42 p.m. they were flying home.

          As soon as the plane cleared North Korean airspace, Mr Pompeo called Mr Trump to inform him of the releases – with the men all apparently in good health.

          Even before Mr Pompeo’s plane had touched down for a stopover at Yokota Air Base in neighboring Japan, the president announced to the world on Twitter that the ‘3 wonderful gentlemen’ were free.

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            U.S. citizen Kim Hak-song was detained ‘on suspicion of acts against the state’

            Kim Dong-chul, pictured above had been detained since 2015. He was arrested for spying and had been sentenced to 10 years’ hard labor

            In a statement released by the State Department, the former detainees expressed their ‘deep appreciation’ to the U.S. government, Trump, Pompeo and the American people ‘for bringing us home.’

            The three were the latest in a series of Americans who have been detained by North Korea in recent years for seemingly small offenses and typically freed when senior U.S. officials or statesmen personally visited to bail them out.

            The last American to be released before this, college student Otto Warmbier, died in June 2017, days after he was repatriated to the U.S. with severe brain damage.

            Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-Duk, was a Korean-American professor and aid worker before his arrest

            Warmbier was arrested by North Korean authorities in January 2016, accused of stealing a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, accusing the government of torturing and killing their son.

            ‘We are happy for the hostages and their families,’ the Warmbiers said in a statement Wednesday. ‘We miss Otto.’

            After the release of the detainees, North Korea’s state-run media explicitly mentioned plans for the summit for the first time. Pyongyang has been exceptionally cautious about its public framing of Kim’s recent diplomatic moves, which are a major shift from the more aggressive focus on missile launches and nuclear development that heated tensions to a boil last year.

            The trio’s release draws a line under an issue that had weighed on plans for a historic summit between Mr Kim and Mr Trump that will focus on North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

            ‘We’re granting amnesty to the three detained Americans,’ the North Korean emissary told Mr Pompeo at Pyongyang’s Koryo Hotel, according to the senior U.S. official.

            ‘We issued the order to grant immediate amnesty to the detainees.’

            ‘That’s great,’ the secretary of state replied.

            The North Korean official then advised that the releases would follow a ‘very brief ceremony’ – which he described as more like a legal process.

            The official closed with a gentle warning for the United States to prevent a repeat: ‘You should make care that they do not make the same mistakes again,’ the official said. ‘This was a hard decision.’

            Mr Trump pledged to show the world how happy he was that the three Americans are now free men

            Mr Trump has thanks the North Korean leader for releasing the prisoners ahead of their summit

            President Donald Trump tweeted late Wednesday that he was ‘Looking forward to greeting the Hostages (no longer) at 2:00 A.M.’

            President Trump triumphantly announced the release of the trio of Americans in his own style – with a pair of tweets

            University founded by Christian Korean-American who was once detained in North on suspicion of being a spy

            The university where two of the latest three American detainees released by North Korea taught is unique: an institution founded and funded by foreign Christians in an isolated country that decries religion.

            The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) was set up by James Kim, a wealthy evangelical Korean-American the North once detained on suspicion of being a U.S. spy.

            Only North Korean citizens can enrol, and it is known to educate many children of the country’s elite.

            Opened in 2010, it now has 560 students and 100 ‘international volunteers,’ according to its website, many of them coming to it through church organisations.

            PUST says its mission is ‘to pursue excellence in education, with an international outlook, so that its students are diligent in studies, innovative in research and upright in character, bringing illumination to the Korean people and the world.’

            But sources stress that it carries out no Christian proselytising, which is unwelcome by Pyongyang.

            The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) was set up by James Kim, a wealthy evangelical Korean-American the North once detained on suspicion of being a U.S. spy. Pictured: The snow-covered campus 

            About half of PUST’s 80-odd foreign faculty were Americans who have been unable to return for this academic year as a result, and it has filled the gaps with Chinese replacements. Pictured: People walk around the university’s campus

            Although religious freedom is enshrined in the North Korean constitution, it does not exist in practice and religious activity is severely restricted to officially recognized groups linked to the government.

            Agricultural expert Kim Hak-song and former accounting professor Tony Kim were both lecturers at the institution but were arrested by North Korean authorities as they were leaving the country.

            The university previously said their detentions were ‘not connected in any way with the work of PUST,’ and it is understood the duo may have come to the attention of the Pyongyang authorities through previous Christian activities elsewhere.

            The two, along with fellow detainee Kim Dong-chul, were granted ‘amnesty’ by Pyongyang following a meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and landed back in the United States on Thursday, to be welcomed by President Donald Trump. 

            ‘Our hopes and prayers have been fulfilled by their release,’ PUST said in a statement. The university expressed ‘sincere hope’ that the detainees would be able to ‘now enjoy some peace and rest with their families and friends, and begin to rebuild normal life.’

            The school itself has faced indirect repercussions from their detentions.

            Tony Kim was arrested in April last year, Kim Hak-song the following month. Weeks later American student Otto Warmbier, who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for trying to steal a propaganda poster, was released in a mysterious coma and died shortly afterwards.

            The university (pictured) previously said their detentions were ‘not connected in any way with the work of PUST,’ and it is understood the duo may have come to the attention of the Pyongyang authorities through previous Christian activities elsewhere

            That prompted Washington to slap a travel ban on American citizens.

            About half of PUST’s 80-odd foreign faculty were Americans who have been unable to return for this academic year as a result, and it has filled the gaps with Chinese replacements.

            It has also had problems transferring funds and importing materials due to the sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear programme by the UN Security Council and others.

            ‘We do of course hope that this is a step in a positive process that will lead to the U.S. administration ending the travel ban on U.S. citizens,’ a school official told AFP, ‘so that many of our regular faculty and leadership can come back to the PUST campus and we can resume operations in a more normal way.’

            On its website, PUST says it is hiring new faculty members: English and Chinese instructors, and professors for subjects ranging from stem cell culture technology to genetic engineering.

            It does not mention the detention of its lecturers.

            Korean-American writer Suki Kim went to PUST undercover as an English teacher in 2011 and later wrote a book about her experiences.

            ‘PUST offers a mutually beneficial arrangement for both North Korea and the evangelicals,’ she wrote in an essay published in the Washington Post last year following Tony Kim’s detention.

            ‘The regime gets free education for its youth and a modern facility… while the evangelicals get a footing in the remote nation,’ she said.

            Source: AFP

            North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un has been photographed smiling and laughing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just moments before three American detainees boarded a flight home after months in captivity

            The plane carrying Pompeo and the three Americans – Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim – touched down on US soil in Anchorage, Alaska on Wednesday for a brief refueling stop before continuing on its journey to Washington, DC

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