North Korea releases jailed Canadian pastor amid tensions with US

As President Trump leveled a warning at the hermit kingdom via tweet, a Canadian pastor was freed early, although there is no clear link between this incident and the escalation of tensions between the US and North Korea.

Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)/Reuters
South Korea-born Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim stands during his trial at a North Korean court in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Dec. 16, 2015. Mr. Lim was released early from his life sentence on Wednesday following heated warnings between the US and North Korea.

North Korea freed a Canadian pastor serving a life sentence there on humanitarian grounds, the official KCNA news agency said on Wednesday, just hours after the United States warned it would counter any threat from the North with "fire and fury."

The release came a day after Canadian officials said a delegation led by the country's national security adviser had traveled to North Korea to discuss the case of Hyeon Soo Lim, sentenced to hard labor for life in Dec. 20.

North Korea had accused Pastor Lim, who served in one of the largest churches in Canada, of attempting to overthrow the regime.

"Rim Hyon-su, a Canadian civilian, was released on sick bail according to the decision of the Central Court of the DPRK on Aug. 9, 2017, from the humanitarian viewpoint," KCNA said, using the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

There was no obvious direct connection between the release and the standoff with the United States, but North Korea has in the past attracted the attention of Washington, and visits by high-profile Americans, with the detention and release of US citizens.

Lim's family had become more concerned for his welfare since the death in June of American student Otto Warmbier, who had been held in North Korea for 17 months.

Mr. Warmbier, sentenced last year to 15 years' hard labor for trying to steal a propaganda item from his hotel during a tour, died in a Cincinnati hospital just days after being released in a coma. The circumstances of his death remain unclear.

North Korea is still holding three Americans. The US State Department said last week it would ban US nationals from traveling to the isolated country, beginning in September.

Lim's Toronto-area church has said he visited the North more than 100 times since 1997 and helped set up an orphanage and nursing home. Last year, Lim told CNN he spent eight hours a day digging holes at a labor camp where he had not seen any other prisoners.

On Wednesday, North Korea said it was considering plans for a missile strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Trump told the North that any threat to the US would be met with "fire and fury."

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to North Korea releases jailed Canadian pastor amid tensions with US
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2017/0809/North-Korea-releases-jailed-Canadian-pastor-amid-tensions-with-US
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe