WASHINGTON — A native of Fairfax, Virginia, is among the three detainees released by North Korea Wednesday.
Kim Dong-Chul had been arrested in October 2015 and was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in April 2016 on charges of spying on North Korea. He and his wife operated a business in Yanji, China, and he crossed daily into Rason, the special economic zone where Chinese businesses are able to operate in North Korea, CNN reports.
Kim confessed to the crime to CNN, but the network said it can’t be determined whether he was speaking under duress.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the release of the three detainees — Kim Dong-Chul, Kim Hak-Song and Tony Kim, who are not related despite having the same family name — was “a positive gesture of goodwill” in the run-up to a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump tweeted Wednesday that the date and place of the meeting had been set, but it hasn’t been announced yet.