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Korea releases jailed Canadian pastor: official media
10 August 2017, 12:40 | Myrtle Vega
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North Korea freed Heyon Soo Lim, a Canadian pastor, who had been jailed in the country for two and a half years.
North Korea has freed a Canadian pastor that was sentenced in 2015 to hard labor for life on allegations that he attempted to overthrow the government.
Lim's family had stepped up calls for his release since the death of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier in June.
Since Lim, who formerly led Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto, was detained, the Korean community in numerous locations held multiple prayer gatherings for his release, including in Canada, the US, and South Korea.
Lim's Toronto-area church has said Lim visited North Korea more than 100 times since 1997 and helped set up an orphanage and nursing home.
A high-ranking Canadian official is in Pyongyang to negotiate the release of an imprisoned Canadian pastor, the media reported on Wednesday.
Mr. Lim said during his news conference that the bags of food he had donated across North Korea had carried the sign of the cross and phrases from the Bible.
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A Canadian government official said Jean was leading the delegation as Trudeau's special envoy, and while his focus was the release of Lim, he would also "discuss other issues of regional concern".
The pastor also said he asked the authorities for a copy of the Bible, and revealed that he continues to pray for the unification of North and South Korea, and that no one will ever have to suffer through the same experience he has.
"Strategically, North Korea perhaps hopes to engender some goodwill from Canada as tensions rise", said Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat in China. In 2016, he told the US network CNN that he had been digging holes for 8 hours a day.
In letters to family, friends, and members of his church in Mississauga, Ontario, Lim has complained of stomach pain and high blood pressure.
Tensions between North Korea and the USA 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.
The U.N. Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea at the weekend over its continued missile tests, and U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned the country would be met with "fire and fury" if it threatens the United Sates.
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