North Korea says it's released imprisoned Canadian pastor
August 23 2017, 11:06 | Irvin Gilbert
REUTERSMr Warmer was flown home to the US in a coma in June this year
Lim, a South Korean-born Canadian citizen, had made 100 trips to North Korea where he supports an orphanage, nursing home and nursery before he was arrested in February 2015.
Lim was convicted and sentenced in 2015 on charges of trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system and helping US and South Korean authorities lure and abduct North Korean citizens.
Lim, a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church of Mississauga, Ont., had been sentenced by a North Korean court to life in prison with hard labour for what it called crimes against the state.
It comes two months after the death of USA student Otto Warmbier, who was in a coma at the time of his release from a North Korean prison.
Lim's son, James Lim, received word over the weekend that a plane carrying senior Canadian officials, a medical doctor, and a letter to North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un was dispatched to Pyongyang "at the last minute", according to family spokeswoman Lisa Pak.
North Korea, which zealously tries to shield its citizens from outside influences, has detained several foreign missionaries in recent years, calling them spies or agents of subversive ideas. Especially after the fate of Otto Warmbier (the American student who died after being freed in June), they remain concerned about his health.
The 62-year-old pastor is reported to be in poor health now, suffering from high blood pressure and had earlier complained of stomach pain.
Lim has made more than 100 visits to North Korea since immigrating to Canada from South Korea nearly three decades ago.
The delegation that arrived in North Korea today was headed by Daniel Jean, who serves as Justin Trudeau's national security advisor.
North Korea has in the past attracted the attention of Washington and visits by high-profile Americans with the detention and release of U.S. citizens.
Tensions between North Korea and the US are on the rise, as North Korea has threatened to take punitive action against the U.S.in response to new sanctions, as well as other perceived provocations.
CNN interviewed the pastor in January 2016, finding he was forced to work eight hours a day, six days a week, in a camp where he had never seen another inmate.
Lim's release comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, with US President Donald Trump threatening the North with "fire and fury" on Tuesday.