North Korea Frees Canadian Pastor Sentenced to Life of Hard Labor

North Korea prisoner Lim Hyeon-soo Kim Jong-un

A delegation led by Canada's national security adviser and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's intelligence adviser, Daniel Jean, is now reported to be negotiating with North Korean officials to secure the pastor's release.

His January 2015 arrest came just a couple months after the release of missionary Kenneth Bae, who faced similar charges as the longest-serving United States prisoner in North Korean history. Lim was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against the state two years ago, and since then, the 62-year-old inmate's health has deteriorated.

The Canadian government is not confirming the release yet, but did acknowledge that it sent a delegation to discuss the case.

Two other Western Christians, a pair of American professors at North Korea's evangelical-run private university, were taken into custody in April and May-the latest in a string of missionaries to get in trouble in Pyongyang. Warmbier arrived to the U.S.in a vegetative state and died six days after his release.

According to media reports earlier this summer, Lim has problems with high blood pressure and complained about pains in the stomach in letters to friends.

Family spokesperson Lisa Pak said there was "a long way to go in terms of Reverend Lim's healing".

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"We want to thank the global community for the continued prayers and support and we also ask that the world does not forget the people of North 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 USA citizens. A tearful Mr. Lim later appeared in a government-arranged news conference in Pyongyang and confessed to plotting to overthrow the North Korean leadership by undermining the "worship" of Kim Jong-un.

North Korea has in the past attracted the attention of Washington and visits by high-profile Americans with the detention and release of U.S. citizens.

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.

'He had been under the penalty of indefinite hard labor as he conducted hostile deeds against the DPRK, ' the agency added.

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