North Korea Finally Frees Foreign Pastor After Years In Detention

North Korea prisoner Lim Hyeon-soo Kim Jong-un

Canadian officials have traveled to North Korea to discuss the case of a Canadian pastor serving a life sentence there, a spokesman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.

South Korea-born Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim stands during his trial at a North Korean court in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, North Korea on December 16, 2015.

At the time of his arrest, Hyeon Soo Lim was regarded as 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.

The student died less than a week after returning to the U.S. There are three Americans still being held in North Korea.

South Korea, the USA and others often accuse North Korea of using foreign detainees to gain diplomatic concessions, and foreigners have said after their release that their declarations of guilt had been coerced while in North Korean custody.

'Pastor Lim's health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the government of Canada as we continue to engage on this case, ' said Cameron Ahmad, a spokesperson for Trudeau, yesterday.

"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".


Mr Lim has complained of stomach pain and high blood pressure in letters home to Mississauga, Ontario.

Lim was sentenced to "indefinite hard labor" for "hostile deeds against the DPRK".

Warmbier was on a sightseeing tour of North Korea when he was detained in early 2016 and later charged with attempting to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel.

Last year, Lim told CNN he spends eight hours a day digging holes at a labour camp where he has not seen any other prisoners.

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

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

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