North Korea releases jailed Canadian pastor on humanitarian grounds

Friday, 11 Aug, 2017

North Korea said Wednesday it has released a Canadian pastor who was convicted of subversion in 2015 and sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor.

At the time of his arrest, the representative of the presbyterian Church in korea in Light of Toronto was considered one of the most influential christian missionary in North Korea, a country that he had visited dozens of times to work in orphanages and hospitals.

Pastor Lim was released by North Korea following the visit of a high-profile visit by a Canadian government delegation led by Daniel Jean, National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

This file photo taken on February 29, 2016 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 1, 2016 shows U.S. student Otto Frederick Warmbier (R), speaking at a press conference in Pyongyang.

A Mississauga man who has been in detention in North Korea for the past two and a half years is finally coming home. The university, founded in 2010 with donations from South Korean and American Christians, including the Illinois-based Church of the Brethren, remains the only private university in the country. North Korea is now holding three US Korean-Americans by force.

Family spokesperson Lisa Pak said there was "a long way to go in terms of Reverend Lim's healing". Sweden's embassy in Pyongyang, which represents several Western nations in the insular nation, had also helped, the statement said.

"Unlike Lim, it would be a lot more hard for South Korean detainees to return home because we are in a different diplomatic relationship (with the North)", Koh said.

News of his release came a day after a six-member Canadian government delegation arrived in North Korea to try to gain Lim's freedom. "North Korea is concerned he would die in prison".

It quoted the person who took the photograph as saying that the flight, which had no number, was carrying Lim, who was released on Wednesday by North Korea on humanitarian grounds.

He had stolen a propaganda poster from a hotel in 2016.

Lim told CNN a year ago that he dug holes eight hours a day, six days a week in a labor camp.

"We have been consistently requesting the North Korean government to release and return our citizens held captive there".

North Korea has in the past attracted the attention of Washington and visits by high-profile Americans with the detention and release of US citizens.

In a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland dated July 11, Julia Beazley, director of public policy at The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, said concerns for Mr. Lim's health have intensified since Mr. Warmbier's death.