The State Department gave assurances that they are making efforts to secure the release of Kim and the others, recalling that former ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun, who is the special policy representative for North Korea, met with all three American prisoners when Otto Warmbier was released in June.
Kim was arrested in April 2017 while working as an accounting teacher at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) and charged a month later with “committing criminal acts of hostility” intended to overthrow the North Korean government.
The Kim regime also claimed Warmbier was acting as an agent of the CIA.
The precise nature of the charges against him remains mysterious to the outside world, aside from North Korea claiming he was involved in a subversive plot hatched long before he began teaching at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.
“I was tasked with taking photos of military secrets and ‘scandalous’ scenes,” Kim Dong-chul told CNN when the North Koreans finally allowed him to speak to the outside world, under close supervision, in January 2016.