By Harry J. Kazianis, ,
Published May 09, 2018
North Korea’s release of three Americans it has been holding as prisoners is evidence of the success of President Trump’s “get tough” policy in dealing with dictator Kim Jong Un, while at the same time agreeing to negotiate with Kim.
The North released the three Americans – Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk (also known as Tony Kim) Wednesday.
Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song – arrested in April and May of 2017 – were charged by North Korea with carrying out “hostile acts” while working at a North Korean university. Kim Dong Chul was arrested in 2015 and accused of being a South Korean spy.
President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning: “I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air an on his way back 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.”
Pompeo was flying back to the U.S. with the three men after visiting North Korea to finalize plans for the Trump-Kim summit.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now a member of President Trump’s legal defense team, predicted the imminent release of the three, saying on “Fox & Friends” last week that “we got Kim Jong Un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners.”
President Trump deserves high praise – Nobel Peace Prize, anyone? – not only for securing the release of the three U.S. citizens, but also for prompting Kim Jong Un to hold talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently, and for setting up a Trump-Kim summit in the near future. These steps have hopefully averted what could have been a nuclear war.
The U.S. is seeking an agreement in the talks for North Korea to destroy its nuclear weapons and agree to never build new ones. Kim Jong Un speaks of “denuclearization” but is highly unlikely to go as far as the U.S. wants in getting rid of his entire nuclear arsenal.
The North Korean leader’s goal is to end crippling international economic sanctions against his country and normalize relations with the U.S., South Korea and other nations around the world.
Despite the welcome news of the prisoner release, we must never forget who are dealing with in North Korea. No amount of pretty photo ops and smiles from King Jong Un can cover up the real nature of his totalitarian regime, which today holds over 100,000 people in miserable conditions in political prison camps.
Kim Jong Un is a brutal murderer, ruthless dictator and proven liar. He cannot be trusted, so the Trump administration should demand that any agreement Kim makes be verifiable.
We should never forget about the poor souls who have never escaped the Kim regime’s evil clutches. Specifically, one person comes to mind: University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who somehow became deathly ill after he was imprisoned and most likely tortured by the North – and died soon after he was released at the age 22 in June 2017. The North Koreans sentenced Warmbier to 15 years in prison with hard labor after claiming he had stolen a propaganda poster.
Kim Jong Un’s grandfather and father – who ruled before him – compiled a record of lying, cheating and stealing whatever they needed to survive, along with a human rights rap sheet filled with millions of innocent dead men, women and children. Kim Jong Un has proudly carried on the family tradition.
While I am hopeful that Kim Jong Un truly wants to give up his nuclear weapons and potentially open his nation economically and politically, history cries out for us to cautious. And the Kim family’s victims – Otto Warmbier and millions more – demand such skepticism from us.
Let’s hope the new prisoner release signals that Kim is choosing a new and verifiable path.