US President Trump welcomes the three released detainees shortly after their plane has landed at the Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.
Donald Trump greets the three men after their arrival at the Andrews Air Force Base near Washington DC this morning (Twitter @realdonaldtrump)

Three American citizens released yesterday by North Korea were welcomed home by US President Trump as they arrived at the Andrews Air Force base near Washington DC early this morning (10 May).

“It’s like a dream and we are very, very happy,” Kim Dong-chul, a pastor in his early 60s, told the president in front of the media. “We were treated in many different ways. For me, I had to do a lot of labour. But when I got sick I was also treated by them.”

According to the BBC, the released detainees seemed to be in good health and were smiling and waving upon arrival.

In a statement, the trio expressed their “deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo and the people of the United States for bringing us home”.

“We thank God and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return,” they added.

Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim (also known as Kim Sang-duk) and Kim Hak Song were arrested in North Korea between 2015 and 2017. They were imprisoned and put in labour camps for ‘anti-state activities’.

According to the White House, they were released as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the much-anticipated meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which Trump announced today will take place in Singapore on 12 June.

Rumours that the three men might be released started last week when it was reported they had been relocated to a Pyongyang hotel and were receiving good food and medical care. They travelled home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had been in Pyongyang to prepare the way for next month’s Trump-Kim meeting.