Canadian delegation in North Korea to discuss jailed pastor

Posted August 10, 2017

Pastor Lim, 61, had been doing humanitarian work in North Korea since 1997 and had visited the isolated country more than 100 times prior to his arrest, according to his Toronto church, the 3,000-member Light Korean Presbyterian Church.

Separately, a senior government official confirmed to CBC News that Jean was leading the delegation as the prime minister's special envoy, and that while his focus is the release of Lim, he would also be free to "discuss other issues of regional concern".

"Obviously, Pastor Lim's health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the government of Canada and we are continuing to engage on his case", said Cameron Ahmad in a statement. In December the same year, the North's highest court sentenced Lim to life in prison, citing his "subversive plots" against the Pyongyang regime.

Lim, who served in one of the largest churches in Canada, had been sentenced to hard labour for life in December 2015 after North Korea accused him of attempting to overthrow the regime.

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.

Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center assessing Warmbier's condition on his return concluded that the US citizen had suffered significant brain damage and no signs of botulism were detected.

The release of Lim, the only Canadian in North Korean custody, comes while tensions between the United States and North Korea are high enough for the Trump administration to issue a travel ban on Americans entering the hostile country.

"A nuclear power like North Korea that has shown a level of irresponsibility", he said, pausing for several seconds as he searched for the right words, finally continuing, "fundamental irresponsibility-to not to use a word like insane which I will not use-is a real concern".

President Donald Trump has responded to recent threats from North Korea by pledging "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if they continue.

The official said the timing of the delegation's visit was based on the condition of Lim, and not related to the increasing world pressure associated with Pyongyang's missile tests and last weekend's imposition of further sanctions by the UN.