After languishing for more than two years in a North Korean prison, a Canadian pastor was released according to the country’s state news agency.
Hyeon Soo Lim, 62, a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ont., had travelled to North Korea more than a hundred times, leading humanitarian programs and even opening an orphanage. But during his last trip in 2015, he was detained and charged with attempting to overthrow North Korea’s regime using religion.
Two years and dozens of delicate diplomatic communications later, a Canadian delegation led by Daniel Jean, a national security advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, travelled to Pyongyang this week to discuss Lim’s case in person. “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 media.
Since being imprisoned, Lim’s health was reportedly failing. He suffers from high blood pressure and allegedly lost nearly 40 kilograms while incarcerated.
According to North Korea’s news agency, Lim was released on “sick bail.”
Lim’s release comes just weeks after North Korea freed 22-year-old American student Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned in 2016 after allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster. Brought home in a coma with obvious signs of torture, Warmbier died on June 19, just six days after arriving in the U.S.
There is, however, still no timeline for when Lim will be returned to Canada. His current whereabouts also remain unknown. As for his health issues, the North Korean government has not given any indication of just how sick the pastor has become.