Korea releases Canadian missionary jailed since 2015

Hyeon Soo Lim a pastor from the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga Ont. is taken to a sentencing hearing in Pyongyang North Korea in December 2015. He was sentenced to a life sentence of hard labour for subversion

Hyeon, who served in one of the largest churches in Canada, was released on "sick bail" by North Korea's Central Court, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

In a trial held around the end of 2015 in Pyongyang, the country's highest court found Lim guilty of having conspired to overthrow the regime as a part of an alleged conspiracy by the governments of the US and South Korea.

At least three Americans remain in North Korean custody: businessman Kim Dong-chul, academic Kim Sang-duk and self-described Christian missionary Kim Hak-song.

His release came as relations between Pyongyang and Washington deteriorated further after President Trump vowed to respond to North Korea "with fire and fury" following the latter's threat to launch a missile strike on the Pacific island of Guam, a US territory.

A plane carrying senior Canadian officials, a medical doctor, and a letter to North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, landed in Pyongyang on Monday, Pak said.

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.

In July, there were reports that the United States was going to ban its citizens from travelling to North Korea following the death of USA college student Otto Warmbier who passed away in June 2017 after 17 months in North Korean captivity.

The flight was scheduled to leave the North Korean capital at 9.25am local time (0155 GMT) and was bound for the United States air force base in Yokota, near Tokyo, according to NK News. Lim likewise lost a significant amount of weight through the ordeal.

Canada does not have an embassy in North Korea, and Trudeau thanked Sweden for playing the role of "protecting power", where a country that does have diplomatic relations acts on behalf of another country.

Lim detained in February 2015 while on a humanitarian mission in Rajin, North Korea, a family spokesperson said at the time.

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

The U.S. government subsequently banned its citizens from traveling to North Korea as tourists.

Since 2009, over 10 USA citizens have been detained in North Korea on charges of anti-state acts and other unspecified crimes.

Lim told CNN past year he spent his days in prison digging holes.

"We're so happy he's been released, " Baik said from outside the church.

North Korea has released a Canadian pastor who was convicted of attempting to undermine the regime of Kim Jong Un.

Lim has visited the country more than 100 times for humanitarian activities since 1997.



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