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Family awaits ailing pastor's return from North Korea

Family awaits ailing pastor's return from North Korea

Emergency "sick bail" was granted to Hyeon Soo Lim who was released from his hard labour sentence on Wednesday, state-run news agency KCNA said.

Lim Hyeon-soo, who pastors the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, is escorted to his sentencing in Pyongyang on December 16, 2015.

The development came as a delegation from the office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Pyongyang to press for the release of the 62-year-old, South Korean-born citizen, Canadian media reported.

The seriousness of Pastor Lim's situation became even more clear after the death of United States student Otto Warmbier earlier this year, after his release from North Korean imprisonment.

South Korea on Thursday welcomed North Korea's release of the pastor, urging the North to free the South Korean citizens still held in captivity.

Canadian officials had traveled to North Korea to discuss his case a day prior to his release.

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

The U.N. Security Council on Saturday adopted Resolution 2371 to toughen sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development programs. Lim likewise lost a significant amount of weight through the ordeal.

Thanks are extended to the family of the pastor to "the ambassador Torkel Stiernlöf and the diplomatic staff of the embassy of Sweden for their tireless efforts and their role key to obtain the liberation" of Hyeon Soo Lim.

He was detained in February 2015 while on a humanitarian mission in Rajin, North Korea.

In a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland dated July 11, Julia Beazley, director of public policy at The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, said concerns for Mr. Lim's health have intensified since Mr. Warmbier's death.

"That incident met with major USA and global backlash against North Korea".

North Korea is ranked #1 on Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution.

He was later sentenced to a life of hard labor for numerous charges, including what DPRK authorities claimed was an attempt to overthrow the government.

In an interview with CNN previous year, Lim confirmed that he was indeed shipped off to a labor camp to serve out his life sentence with eight hours a day of digging holes to plant apple trees.

"I believe in the power of prayer", said Cho, who has known Lim for two decades.

But it may come as some solace to Lim's congregation and family that when a US diplomat recently went to North Korea to retrieve Warmbier, he reported seeing Lim and said that he was still able to stand.

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