PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. — One of the three men who were freed from North Korea this week and returned home to America with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo handed Vice President Mike Pence a note that contained text from Psalm 126 on the back.
Pence shared a photo of the Scripture, written on a lined index card, to Twitter on Thursday.
“When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy,” it read.
The men touched down at Andrews Air Force Base just before 3 a.m. on Thursday and exited the plane with smiles and waves. They were greeted by President Trump and Vice President Pence and their wives.
“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. We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return,” the three said in an official statement released by the U.S. Department of State.
As previously reported, among the detainees was Kim Dong-chul, a pastor from Fairfax, Virginia who had been working in the country to help the poor. Dong-chul had traveled to various states to raise funds for his humanitarian work, speaking at various churches in New York, California and Washington, D.C., as he focused on delivering medical supplies to the needy.
He was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of spying for the South Koreans, and was sentenced the following year to 10 years hard labor.
Kim Hak-song, who is stated to be a pastor affiliated with the Oriental Mission Church in Los Angeles, had been held for the past year for engaging in alleged “hostile acts” against the North Korean government. He had been working in the agricultural department at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim, had likewise been detained since 2017 after being accused of “criminal acts of hostility” toward the North Koreans. He similarly taught at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a school that was reportedly founded by Christians.
One of the men had reportedly asked to go outside when the plane stopped to refuel in Alaska as they had not seen the light of day for a long time.
North Korea has been known as one of the most difficult places to live as a Christian, and has been listed at the top of Open Doors USA’s “World Watch List” for 16 years in a row.
“The North Korean regime reviles Christianity and considers it the biggest threat among religions; the regime associates Christianity with the West, particularly the United States,” a report recently released by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also outlined.
“Through robust surveillance, the regime actively tries to identify and seek out Christians practicing their faith in secret and imprisons those it apprehends, often along with their family members even if they are not similarly religious.”