One day after Canada sent a team of delegates to North Korea on behalf of a jailed Canadian pastor, North Korean officials have set the man free, based on humanitarian grounds.
Canadian pastor Rim Hyon Su, also known as Hyeon See Lim, was sentenced in December 2015 to life in prison with hard labor after North Korea accused him of attempting to overthrow the regime.
In a rare concession, North Korea had allowed Lim to be interviewed by CNN last year. He stated that he was forced to dig holes at a labor camp for eight hours daily, six days a week, and was not allowed contact with any other prisoners.
According to Lim’s church in Toronto, he had traveled to North Korea over 100 times since 1997 and had helped to establish a nursing home and an orphanage.
The release comes just two months after American student Otto Warmbier was released and sent home in a comatose state in June; he died just a few days later.
Warmbier had been accused of stealing a banner from his hotel and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. He was held captive for 17 months before North Korea finally sent him home.
After Warmbier’s death, Lim’s family had become even more concerned for his safety.
North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, announced on Wednesday, “Rim Hyon Su, a Canadian civilian, was released on sick bail according to the decision of the Central Court of the DPRK on August 9, 2017, from the humanitarian viewpoint.”
Three American citizens are still being held captive in North Korea. The U.S. State Department published an announcement on Wednesday, August 2, stating that beginning September 1, 2017, the U.S. government will restrict the use of U.S. passports to travel to North Korea.
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