>> Expectations mounting on Thursday that North Korea would soon release three American prisoners as a show of goodwill ahead of an unprecedented US-North Korea summit. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said she could not confirm details, but that Washington was cautiously optimistic about its ongoing talks on the release.
>> We certainly would see this as a sign of goodwill.>> Reuters' Jon Herskowitz, who was chief correspondent in South Korea for six years, covered a number of these prisoner captures and releases.>> North Korea has released every American it's held after the Korean War. This sort of thing in North Korea's domestic media is played up as a show of North Korean strength and benevolence.
They will be able to spin it in such a way to show that their pursuit of nuclear weapons, their build up of their ballistic missile arsenal, has caused the US to come begging for a peace deal. And to show the gratitude for the US understanding that North Korea is a nuclear power on par with them, they will release the three Americans held.
>> The three men who may be released are Korean missionary Kim Don Chul, Kim Sang-Duk, who spent a month teaching at the foreign funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology before he was arrested in 2017, and Kim Hak Song, who also taught at the same university. But prisoner releases in the past haven't always gone smoothly.
The parents of a US college student, Otto Warmbier, who died last year soon after being released from captivity in North Korea have sued Pyongyang over their son's death, saying he was quote, brutally tortured and murdered. Speaking at the UN on Thursday, Warmbier's parent lashed out at North Korea.
>> When he was of no value to them, they essentially sent him home to our family in a body bag. It's not change, North Korea hasn't changed.>> Warmbier's death last year was a low point in relations between the US and North Korea. But after last week's meeting between Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in things are looking much rosier, with the two pledging to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.