May 9, 2018

Trump's dramatic North Korea homecoming

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Three U.S. prisoners in North Korea are coming home, and President Trump will be meeting them when the plane arrives in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

Why it matters: "[T]he release of the three Americans is permanent, and Mr. Kim forfeited a bargaining chip in freeing them. No other Americans are believed to be held prisoner in North Korea," Choe Sang-Hun writes for the N.Y. Times.

The details: NYT adds, "A senior United States official said the prisoner release was an American condition to the planned talks between the leaders of the United States and North Korea."

Trump's triumphant announcement:

  • "I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set."
  • "Secretary Pompeo and his 'guests' will be landing at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:00 A.M. in the morning. I will be there to greet them. Very exciting!"

The newly-freed prisoners: Tony Kim, detained since April 23, 2017; Kim Hak-song, detained since May 6, 2017; Kim Dong-chul, detained since 2015.

P.S. Trump has ruled out the DMZ as a location for the North Korean meeting. Singapore is among the remaining options.

Go deeper

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.

Why space is good politics for Trump

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's exuberance around today's scheduled SpaceX launch — including his decision to travel to Florida to watch — goes beyond a personal fascination with astronauts, rockets, and how to make money and wield power in the next frontier.

The bottom line: There's a presidential election in November, and the U.S. space program enjoys wide support across party lines. It's good politics for Trump, at least for now.