Newspaper article The Canadian Press

North Korea Says It Released Canadian Pastor, Ontario Congregation Celebrates News

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

North Korea Says It Released Canadian Pastor, Ontario Congregation Celebrates News

Article excerpt

Canadian pastor freed in North Korea

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TORONTO - An Ontario church congregation is celebrating news of the release of their pastor from a North Korean prison more than two years after he was arrested in the country.

A decision from North Korea's central court freed Hyeon Soo Lim from the prison where he was serving a life sentence for anti-state activities, the country's Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday.

The pastor's release, which came on the heels of an official visit from a Canadian government delegation, was described as "sick bail" by the news agency. No other details were provided.

In a brief statement issued early Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "pleased and relieved" that Lim had been released.

"Pastor Lim's health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the government of Canada, and we are working to ensure that he receives any required medical attention," said Trudeau.

The prime minister also thanked Sweden for its assistance in the matter but said "operational security considerations" prevents the government from discussing the matter further.

Lim, a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ont., had been sentenced by a North Korean court to life in prison with hard labour for what it called crimes against the state.

Charges against him included harming the dignity of the supreme leadership, trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system, disseminating negative propaganda about the North to overseas Koreans, and helping American and South Korean efforts to help people defect from the north.

Word of Lim's release drew members of his congregation to their church, just west of Toronto, where they were seen hugging and crying Wednesday morning.

Charles Baik, an associate pastor with the church's English ministry, said members are ecstatic at the prospect of Lim's return.

"We're so happy he's been released, " Baik said from outside the church.

Lim, who has a wife and son living in the Toronto area, started the Light Korean Presbyterian Church nearly three decades ago, shortly after he emigrated from South Korea. …

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