North Korea frees ailing Canadian pastor from prison

Aug 11, 2017, 00:21
North Korea frees ailing Canadian pastor from prison

Hyeon Soo Lim, a South Korean-born Canadian citizen in his 60s, was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 on charges of trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system and helping USA and South Korean authorities lure and abduct North Korean citizens.

He was later sentenced to a life of hard labor for numerous charges, including what DPRK authorities claimed was an attempt to overthrow the government.

Lim, who has a wife and son living in the Toronto area, started the Light Korean Presbyterian Church almost three decades ago, shortly after he emigrated from South Korea.

Two and a half years after he was detained in Pyongyang, a Mississauga-based pastor of Korean descent has finally been released.

The source who shared the photo, and who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of speaking to media from North Korea, described it as a "special unchartered flight going to Japan". "The presence in North Korea allows us to be able to engage in dialogue and contacts".

The Unification Ministry here has been continuously vowing to step up its efforts to retrieve the prisoners, but doubts are being raised after a prolonged failure to do so. He is of South Korean origin. "In particular, I want to thank Sweden, our protecting power in North Korea, for assisting us", Trudeau said.

"Even though they are perceived as reckless in many ways, it seems they took Otto Warmbier's death (in June) into consideration".

At least three Americans and six South Koreans remain in custody in the North.

The North said Wednesday it was considering a missile strike near U.S. bases in Guam.

This April 15, 2017 picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 16, 2017 shows Korean People's ballistic missiles being displayed through Kim Il-Sung square during a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung.

"We're so happy he's been released, " Baik said from outside the church. "We will continue to make a full effort by cooperating with the global community", the official said.

Lim had complained of stomach pain and high blood pressure in his letters to family, friends and members of his church in Mississauga, Ontario.

Lim's family had become increasingly anxious about his welfare since the death of American student Otto Warmbier in June, just days after he had been released from a North Korean prison.

US Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs spokesperson Grace Choi told Voice Of America on Thursday that Washington would like to see US detainees in the North back home as soon as possible.

"Strategically, North Korea perhaps hopes to engender some goodwill from Canada as tensions rise", Reuters cited Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat in China, as saying. Warmbier fell into a coma while under their imprisonment. The U.S. State Department said last week it would ban U.S. nationals from travelling to the isolated country from September. The bill will take effect next month.