Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim, spent a month teaching at the foreign-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) before he was arrested in 2017. However, it has now been reported that Kim had been released and would return to the United States with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In 2017, Kim and Kim Hak-song were arrested after being accused of carrying out acts against the Kim Jong Un regime. Both men worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a privately-run university. A third person, Kim Dong Chul, was previously arrested in 2015 on charges of spying on behalf of South Korea.
On his official Twitter account, President Donald Trump announced that the three Americans were released and would soon be returning to the United States:
“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.”
This was followed up by a tweet from Mike Pompeo who issued the following statement:
“I had productive meetings in Pyongyang with Chairman Kim Jong-un and made progress. I’m delighted to bring home three Americans.”
Who is Tony Kim?
Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim, is identified as an American national who taught at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology as a visiting professor several weeks before his arrest at the Pyongyang International Airport, also known as the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport, which happened while he was trying to leave North Korea.
Kim was also said to be living in China at the time of his arrest and travelled to the school over half a dozen times. According to the BBC, he also worked at the Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China, which is affiliated with the Pyongyang school.
According to CNN, upon the news that the three detainees would be returning to the United States, Kim’s family thank President Trump in a statement issued on Wednesday:
“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.”
Before the news of Kim’s release came to light, just last week, Tony Kim’s son, Sol Kim, told CBS News what it was like learning about his father’s arrest:
“I asked myself why, what happened, what is the reason, lots of different thoughts went through my head. Will I see him again?”
“Part of me really thought he did not do anything wrong, he won’t be held very long.”