N/Korea Frees Canadian Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim

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Lim, 61, had been sentenced to hard labour for life in December 2015 after North Korea accused him of attempting to overthrow the regime.

Lim was "released on sick bail" by North Korea's top court for "humanitarian" reasons, KCNA said.

The pastor's case was taken up by a delegation led by the country's national security adviser that had gone to North Korea earlier in the week, it said.

Lim's family told local media they became very anxious about his welfare since American college student Otto Warmbier died in June just days after being released from a North Korean prison.

At least three USA citizens remain in North Korean custody. That ban, which goes into effect on September 1, allows those who want to participate in humanitarian missions to North Korea to apply for a special passport to do so.

During the meeting, Rim reportedly talked about his health condition, and asked the charge d'affaires ad interim "to convey his request to the Canadian government for making active efforts" for his release.

Pak said that the pastor's health had worsened while in North Korean custody and he had also experienced dramatic weight loss. U.S. President Donald Trump's warning about unleashing "fire and fury" on the authoritarian regime spurred North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to threaten a missile strike on Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific.

Canada does not have an embassy in North Korea, and has advised against all travel there.

Lim, who has a wife and son in the Toronto area, formed the Light Korean Presbyterian Church almost 30 years ago, soon after emigrating to Canada from South Korea.




This is no doubt a relief for not only Lim's immediate family and friends, but the congregation he ministers over.

North Korea is ranked #1 on Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution.

Mr. Warmbier, sentenced last year to 15 years' hard labour for trying to steal a propaganda item from his hotel during a tour, died in a Cincinnati hospital just days after being released in a coma.

The US has been voicing its concerns over its citizens imprisoned in the North after US college student Warmbier's death in June.

One month into his sentence, Lim told CNN he works eight hours a day, six days a week, with rest breaks, digging holes for the planting of apple trees in the prison orchard.

But it may come as some solace to Lim's congregation and family that when a USA diplomat recently went to North Korea to retrieve Warmbier, he reported seeing Lim and said that he was still able to stand.

Update (8:08 a.m. ET): Relatives of a Canadian pastor released this week after more than two years in a North Korean prison say he is "on his way home" and they are anxious to be reunited with him.

"I believe in the power of prayer", said Cho, who has known Lim for two decades.

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