The release of the prisoners was meant as a goodwill gesture ahead of the highly anticipated summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the official said to South Korean news agency Yonhap News.
In addition to bringing home the prisoners, Pompeo is expected to finalize the details of the Trump-Kim meeting sometime in late May or early June.
“We expect him to bring the date, time and the captives,” the official reportedly said.
Pompeo reportedly left Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Monday, with two reporters who were prohibited from reporting on their trip until after Trump made the announcement of the visit on Tuesday. The reporters were given about four hours of notice before the trip, according to the Associated Press.
Pompeo’s trip comes amid rumors of the imminent release of the three detainees. Trump, who announced that the plans for the upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had been finalized, said to “stay tuned” for any developments on the release of the US citizens.
The three Korean American detainees, Kim Dong-chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang-duk, are the last US citizens held captive by the regime. Kim Dong-chul, who has been held captive the longest after his arrest in 2015, ran a trading and hotel services company in North Korea when he was convicted for espionage.