Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who traveled to Pyongyang this month to press the North Koreans further, said Wednesday the return could begin "in the next couple of weeks". He made his diplomatic debut through a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in March, followed by an inter-Korean summit in April and a meeting with US President Donald Trump in June.
The United States pushed through a series of UN resolutions a year ago that significantly escalated the pressure on North Korea's economy in response to Pyongyang's repeated tests to advance its nuclear weapons program.
"There are no missing Americans who have been "already identified" by the DPRK (North Korea) to be repatriated", says Paul Cole, who has researched POW-MIA issues from the Korean War for decades and served for four years as a scientific fellow at the Pentagon's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii.
Seoul's foreign ministry, however, . has been emphasizing that South Korea is working closely with the worldwide community to implement sanctions on North Korea.
He later added on Twitter Wednesday morning that "Russia has agreed to help with North Korea, where relationships with us are very good and the process is moving along". He also said: "There is no rush, the sanctions remain!"
North Korea's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropped 3.5 percent in 2017, the biggest drop since the 6.5 percent drop in 1997. "Also discussions are carrying and they're going very, very well", Trump told reporters.
Trump defends Putin summit, blames 'Fake News' for derision
I don't mind him dealing with Russian Federation , I just want to deal with Russian Federation from a position of strength. Then following surprised laughter, Mr Coats said: "Okay, that's going to be special".
Gross domestic product in North Korea last year contracted 3.5% from the previous year, marking the biggest contraction since a 6.5% drop in 1997 when the isolated nation was going through a devastating starvation, the Bank of Korea said.
Earlier North Korea participated in 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea along with a high power delegation headed by sister of Kim Jong-un.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who recently had been a regular on worldwide news due to high-profile summits with leaders of South Korea, China, and the United States, have returned focus to home affairs, scolding bureaucrats for slow progress in economic improvements in rural areas.
Trump said he discussed North Korea with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday at their summit in Helsinki.
Broadcaster Voice Of America reported Tuesday that an expert panel under the United Nations sanctions committee found that North Korea shipped coal to the Russian port of Kholmsk on Sakhalin Island. six times between July and September 2017. However, they said that dialogue was contingent on the condition that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons.
According to Yonhap, Trump's remarks come a month after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.