Breaking: 3 Americans Freed from North Korea
The stories of three Americans likely destined to die in one of North Korea’s infamous prison camps are being rewritten today.
Six days after President Trump hinted at the imminent release of three Americans imprisoned in North Korea, reports indicate the three men have been freed from custody and are on their way back to the United States. On Wednesday (May 9), President Trump said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was “in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the three wonderful gentlemen” and that the group seemed “to be in good health.”
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. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
The three Americans–all of Korean descent–reportedly include two Christians. Kim Dong-chul, arrested in 2016, is a pastor in his early 60s while Kim Hak-song, who previously described himself as a Christian missionary was jailed in October 2017. The third man, Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim, was 55 when he was arrested in 2017. Reportedly, a senior U.S. official said their release was a condition to the historic meeting between Trump and North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un. The United States has repeatedly demanded the release of the three American citizens who were held on charges of committing espionage or unidentified “hostile acts” against North Korea. No other Americans are believed to be held prisoner in North Korea.
‘Kim Jong Un Must Open His Labor Camps’
While we celebrate the release of the three men from North Korean custody, Open Doors CEO David Curry points out that these recent positive developments are far from the end of freedom work in North Korea. Instead, they should mark the beginning as we are driven to pray for and advocate for the estimated 50,000 North Korean Christians held in this prison system where abuses and conditions have been described as “as bad or even worse” than Auschwitz, the infamous World War II Nazi concentration camp. For the last 17 straight years, North Korea has been #1 on Open Doors World Watch List as the world’s most dangerous country for Christians.
“We must continue to call attention to the 50,000 Christians who have been detained in these interrogation centers, prison cells and work camps,” says Open Doors CEO David Curry. “And we must continue to work toward religious freedoms for the estimated 300,000 North Korean Christians who must practice their faith under threat of harassment, imprisonment and even death.”
Curry says the logical next step for the Trump administration is to press Kim Jong Un to open his labor camps to the Red Cross and the United Nations Council of Inquiry within the next 30 days.
“We must gain transparency into how these people are being treated. And then we must push forward to negotiate with North Korea to release all political dissidents being held across their prison system. We must make it clear that Kim Jong Un can only be invited back into the world’s good graces, and be lauded for political gestures, if he commits to resolving decades of human rights violations at the hands of his regime.
Curry continues: “While the freedom of three American prisoners is a fantastic start, let’s acknowledge that Kim has not yet ushered in freedom for all.”
Father, we praise you for the release of Kim Dong-chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang-duk. We celebrate their homecoming with their families. But Lord, we know that so much work needs to be done to free Your people from this prison system and to free the 300,000 Christians who must practice their faith in secret. God we ask that you continually bring our North Korean family to mind in our prayers and we ask that You would move in dramatic ways in the hearts and minds of the Kim regime to release the 50,000 Christians imprisoned for their faith–and allow religious freedom to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
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