North Korea's Regime Lets Imprisoned Canadian Pastor Go for 'Humanitarian Reasons'

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has called for calm

Lim Hyeon-soo was released on "sick bail" Wednesday with the North Korean Central Court citing "humanitarian reasons", according to the Korean Central News Agency.

Lim, 61, had been sentenced to hard labour for life in December 2015 after North Korea accused him of attempting to overthrow the regime.

North Korea freed Heyon Soo Lim, a Canadian pastor, who had been jailed in the country for two and a half years.

USA citizen Otto Warmbier, who was released by North Korea after over a year in captivity in June, was evacuated to the US military airbase Chitose, near Sapporo, according to the Washington Post.

Six South Koreans and three Americans are still being held in North Korean prisons.

Lim's release comes at a sensitive time for the Korean Peninsula with the North threatening to create an "enveloping fire" in areas surrounding Guam, a key USA military outpost in the Pacific Ocean, dismissing President Donald Trump's warning of "fire and fury like the world has never seen".

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.

"Pastor Lim's health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the government of Canada as we continue to engage on this case", Prime Minister's Office spokesperson Cameron Ahmad told The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the news and said, 'The Government of Canada was actively engaged on Mr Lim's case at all levels'.

Pak said that the pastor's health had worsened while in North Korean custody and he had also experienced dramatic weight loss. The visit coincided with escalating rhetoric between the United States and North Korea about the isolated regime's nuclear expansion, including a dire warning from U.S. President Donald Trump who promised to counter any threat from the North with "fire and fury like the world has never seen".

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

He had stolen a propaganda poster from a hotel in 2016.

Lim told CNN a year ago he spent his days in prison digging holes. Some US officials have blamed North Korea for his death.

"I believe in the power of prayer", said Cho, who has known Lim for two decades.

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

"He will soon be reunited with his family and friends in Canada."



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