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Early in the morning of Thursday, May 10, 2018 (US time), three American citizens arrived on US soil after having been held captive in North Korea.

It was a stunning, historic event not only for them, but also for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, certainly, President Donald Trump:

CNN reported (emphases mine):

The Americans — Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kimwere freed while Pompeo was on a visit to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang to discuss President Trump’s upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

The three men issued a joint statement thanking Trump.

“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,” the trio said in the statement which the State Department supplied to journalists traveling with Pompeo.

Kim Dong Chul has been in North Korean custody since late 2015, but the other two detainees were arrested last spring, after Trump’s inauguration as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang were beginning to ramp up.

The White House has often brought up their cases when discussing North Korea issues. As both sides began laying the groundwork for the Trump and Kim’s meeting — which would be the first-ever between a sitting US President and North Korean leaderthe Trump administration made it clear that releasing the three Americans would be viewed as a gesture of good will.

Aboard the plane leaving North Korea, Pompeo said he was “thrilled to have them back.”

Pompeo told the small contingent of reporters traveling with him that the detainees appear to be in good health, or at least as healthy as can be considering the circumstances surrounding their detention

The state-run Korea Central News Agency said that Kim decided to release the Americans at Trump’s suggestion. It added that Pompeo and Kim “reached a satisfactory consensus on the issues discussed” and described the talks as “very beneficial.”

Press pool releases, courtesy of Hunter Walker White House Correspondent Yahoo News, were as follows.

This was the order of arrival:

According to staff, at about 2:00 a.m., Vice President Pences helicopter will arrive at Andrews first followed by POTUS. Mike Pompeos plane will come next followed by a medical plane bearing the freed Americans.

The President and First Lady arrived shortly after 2 a.m. on May 10:

Marine One landed at Andrews Air Force Base at approximately 2:18 a.m.
President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump disembarked at about 2:22 am and walked into the terminal. The President didnt respond to shouted questions about whether he had any message ahead of the returnees arrival or whether he had spoken with Kim Jong Un.
Mike Pompeos plane is due to land imminently. —

Trump waited for the appropriate time to leave Marine One. Note the Tylenol® and Diet Coke on the cabinet:

As for the returning Americans:

After coming to Andrews and meeting with the President, the returnees will be going on to Walter Reed for further evaluation and medical treatment. The White House is referring any questions about their medical condition to the State Department.

Reuters has a 41-minute video of the planes landing and the subsequent welcome home for the three men.

The event was carried live around the world, especially South Korea:

Going back to the landings, Mike Pompeo energetically dashed down the steps:

Later, one of the released prisoners gave him a heartfelt hug:

In another tweet, the Washington Post‘s Anna Fifield added:

Kim Dong-chul … was detained a year before the 2016 election so he probably didn’t know until yesterday that Donald Trump is president.

President and Mrs Trump boarded the plane carrying the three men:

They spoke to the men:

And helped guide them to the door:

 

Then it was time to disembark:

I cannot begin to imagine the joy and relief they must have felt:

Afterwards:

Not to be forgotten was someone Obama’s State Department — under John Kerry — did not care much about and told his parents there was not much they could do. Thanks to Rex Tillerson and President Trump, North Korea released Otto Warmbier, who had been in a coma for over a year in prison. He died on June 19, 2017, six days after he arrived back home in Ohio:

Who can say better than this? This is a short, excellent White House video compilation, by the way:

Vice President Mike Pence received three insights into the detainees’ experience.

The first was his and his wife Karen’s conversations with the men:

Another came from Mike Pompeo:

The third came when one of the three handed Pence a note with verses from Psalm 126 on the reverse. Note that their faith never faltered. Below is the index card (full image courtesy of The Conservative Treehouse):

The Conservative Treehouse has more (emphasis in the original):

Kim Dong Chul, Kim Sang Duk, Kim Hak Soon are the names of the three detainees who were released.  Two of the captives, Hak-Soon and Sang Duk, belong to the Pyongyang Univ of Science & Technology and were detained in Apr & May 2017: they had been held for a year. The third, Kim Dong Chul, is an ordained minister held since 2015 when he was commuting from China and was serving a 10-year sentence on espionage charges.

In closing, the White House released a pleasantly bi-partisan set of statements applauding the release of the detainees. Media kudos are also included.

I’ll leave you with the first statement:

The Family of Freed American Tony Kim: “We are very grateful for the release of our husband and father, Tony Kim, and the other two American detainees. We want to thank all of those who have worked toward and contributed to his return home. We also want to thank the President for engaging directly with North Korea. Mostly, we thank God for Tony’s safe return.”

May God bless the three released Americans and their families richly.

May He also abundantly bless all those who secured their release.

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