Published: Thu, August 10, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Canadian delegation in Pyongyang seeks pastor's release

Canadian delegation in Pyongyang seeks pastor's release

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sent a delegation to Pyongyang to discuss the pastor's release.

Mr 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, who was born in South Korea, had visited the Communist country around 100 times over 20 years to support an orphanage and nursing home his church founded.

North Korea said Wednesday that it has released an imprisoned Canadian pastor for humanitarian reasons amid escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula stemming from the North's continued provocations.

"A nuclear power like North Korea that has shown a level of irresponsibility", he said, pausing for several seconds as he searched for the right words, finally continuing, "fundamental irresponsibility-to not to use a word like insane which I will not use-is a real concern".

Lim has been suffering from high blood pressure and stomach pains, according to letters to his friends.

His church had supported a nursing home, a nursery and an orphanage in North Korea since it began a mission there in 1996, when the country was in the grip of a starvation that killed thousands of people.

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A senior Canadian official said their trip was exclusively linked to Lim's condition and was not related to the increasing global tensions with the state.

Last year, the 62-year-old told CNN he was the sole prisoner in a labour camp, digging holes for eight hours a day, six days a week.

Their pleas came in the aftermath of the death of Otto Warmbier, the US citizen who was held in captivity by North Korea and released only to die a few days later.

He is the second foreign citizen to be released on what the North Koreans have termed "humanitarian grounds" in 2017, following the release of US citizen Otto Warmbier in June.

Canadian officials said on Tuesday a delegation led by the country's national security adviser had gone to North Korea to discuss Lim's case.

He was medically evacuated to the United States on a military plane the following day after serving prison in North Korea for 17 months.

President Donald Trump has responded to recent threats from North Korea by pledging "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if they continue.

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